Arsenal will be in fourth by the 4th of April

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Arshavin made a fine debut against SunderlandBefore I get labeled as a hopeless optimist and someone who doesn’t want to face the very real possibility of Arsenal finishing fifth, let me just say that Saturday’s game against Sunderland frustrated me immensely. It was another game without a goal, another missed opportunity and another painful exhibition of what we lack in the centre of the park.

But it was by no means a hopeless performance.

Arsene Wenger’s decision to start Andrey Arshavin surprised many people but the manager was rewarded with an individual performance full of promise. He was unlucky to not get a goal too, shooting agonisingly wide as early as the fourth minute and forcing the Sunderland goalkeeper’s best save of the game on the half-hour. He also set Nicklas Bendtner up with a lovely cross just before half-time before understandably fading out of the game as his fitness deteriorated, replaced by Carlos Vela.

Aside from the opening half-hour, when Sunderland forced Manuel Almunia into a couple of saves and looked quite decent on the break, we controlled the game and absolutely dominated possession. Absolutely. The fact that the Sunderland players were playing keep-ball in the corner with the scores at 0-0 with over five minutes to go indicated just how much they were overrun.

The problem was, as it often has been this season, the centre of midfield. But anyone who expects the performances of Alex Song and Denilson to be berated on this blog should look elsewhere. In contrast, I thought the pair did the job that they were set out to do admirably.

Creativity is not the pair’s strong point but in the absence of Cesc Fabregas all we can realistically ask is that they win the battle in the centre of the park. They did so comfortably and should be praised for it. By half-time they had made the centre of the park their own, such to the extent that one of the pair could have been substituted soon after for a more incisive, attacking player. That the manager waited until the 78th minute to bring off Song for Emmanuel Eboue and shuffle Samir Nasri into the middle was criminal. He could and should have done that as early as the 50th minute. His failure to do so cost the team badly as one scuffed shot by Vela was all Arsenal had to show for their efforts until Song was taken off.

Looking back on the game as a whole, I’m not overly upset with the performance. It was disappointing, yes, and extremely frustrating, but the signs are good in my opinion. We made plenty of chances in the first half – van Persie’s chipped shot, Bendtner’s header and the two Arshavin shots immediately jump to mind – and if any of those efforts had gone in it would have been a cakewalk. But once again we were made to pay for not scoring early as Sunderland effectively shut up shop.

Once we break our 0-0 rut, which is nothing more than an excruciating novelty in my eyes, we will be fine. Our defence looks strong and so does our goalkeeper. Van Persie again looked sharp, Bendtner is improving while Arshavin is more than capable of playing as well as he did against Sunderland in future games. Eduardo is back and Theo Walcott is on his way. We will start to score – it’s not a hope but a formality.

Arsenal’s next six Premier League games are three home contests against Fulham, Blackburn and Manchester City and three away trips to West Brom, Newcastle and Wigan. Aston Villa, on the other hand, host Stoke, Tottenham and FA Cup conquerors Everton and have to travel to Manchester twice and play Liverpool at Anfield. They will drop points. We’re likely to drop some too, but some quick maths indicate to me that we’ll be at least level with Villa by the second week of April. You read it here first.

And that’s all I want to say, really. I admit that another 0-0 draw is hardly the most satisfying result in the world, but aside from the continued frustration of the failure to score it was not a disaster. The defence looked solid, Song and Denilson did their job and if the manager had been just a little more proactive we would have won the game. He wasn’t and we didn’t, and it’s as simple as that.

Anyway, Roma is up next in what should be an excellent game. Keep smiling if you can.

Have your say on Arsenal v Sunderland or the proposed overtake of Aston Villa by leaving a comment.


77 thoughts on “Arsenal will be in fourth by the 4th of April

  1. Hi SF, you’re totally right about the lack of creativity.

    The problem seems to be: Arsenal play well against teams who come out to play football. Those who simply shut up shop and try get us on the counter, we find hard to break down. United don’t have that problem. Their attack can break down these types of defences, and that, unfortunately, is the difference between the teams at the moment.

  2. I agree. The issue I have is that Wenger needs to establish whether – during the games – whether we need both Song and Denilson on the pitch. If teams park the bus then he should look at moving Nasri in as soon as possible. He should have done it on Saturday.

  3. ………Well i agree partially with your post but saying that song and denilson had the games of thier lives was utterly crap! but a very optimistic post all the same……………

  4. “All we can realistically ask is that they win the battle in the centre of the park. They did so comfortably and should be praised for it.”

    That’s all I’m saying. No ‘game of their lives’ stuff here 🙂

  5. The one criticism I have on Wenger is that he keeps Nasri out wide instead of in the middle… There has to be a reason for this that we are not seeing though…

  6. What most scare me is not that we will not be in the Champions next season.

    For me what really scare me is wich players will go if we not finish in the Top4.

    With the last declarations of Van Persie, the desire to go of Adebayor in las summer and Fabregas and Walcott being wanted for everybody and the money that Arsenal will lost for not playing the Champions make me think that we will lost at last 2 stars of our team.

  7. Optimistic as usual SF. When i saw Song in the starting lineup i immediately thought “oh no, another draw”. I dont know what AW was aiming for with Song and Deni in midfield but it clearly didnt work. I really dont know what Vela has to do to start a game, we are better off with Vela on the left, Nasri and Deni in CM and Arshavin on the right.

  8. It is nice to hear some positivity surrounding the team. I am fed up with all the negativity around at the moment.

    For Gods sake we HAVE to get behind the lads, now more than ever!! There were boos around when Eboue stepped onto the park, it makes me sick to my stomach!

    Arsenal fans used to support the team through thick and thin, now we are just a bunch of spoilt kids crying about the fact we used to be good.

    I for one think this team could be amazing, Song may not be good enough in the long run but Denilson is quality and for such a young guy to have played every game this season in centre mid is quite amazing.

    Remember when we used to be called supporters? Look that word up in the dictionary!

    The pace and urgency has gone out of our attacks but when every wrong move or misplaced pass is greeted with moans or boos it is no wonder some of them do not want to take risks.

    Let’s get behind them all the way and truly help them to push for that place.

  9. [1st post] We are currently looking a shadow of our former selves [looking back, say last season]. The creativity in the final 3rd is only present on our flanks, where now now rely on crosses [ not the arsenal way] to create goal scoring chances. We’re just not breaking defences up through the middle anymore, which is a major concern. Take nothing away from Den and Song, they perform their defensive duties very well, but they don’t offer us anything in the final 3rd. If we can get the combination right, then we’ll definitely grab a champs league spot by April

  10. Sorry SF, your description of the game is in my opinion far too optimistic. Your glass isn’t half full buddy, it’s overflowing all over the floor. You say Denilson and Song’s job is to win the battle in midfield. What do mean by that? In my book, the job of the central midfield is to move the ball forward quickly and efficiently from the back and create opportunities for either themselves or the forwards to score. Did they do that? No, they certainly didn’t. They also need to regain possession voraciously when the opposing team have the ball. Did they do that? Well, yes, from the point of view that they both worked hard, got their feet stuck in and won the ball. It was the complete lack of movement, vision and efficient distribution of the ball that was so worrying. It’s fine saying the goals will come, but unless the chances are created from midfield, I’m afraid our only route to goal is via set pieces. On that topic, I’m continually baffled by the fact that when we get a corner, one of our 2 tall strikers, who should be on the edge of the box waiting to attack the ball, is actually taking the bloody kick! What is RvP doing out there for f*ck’s sake? And why doesn’t Gallas or Wenger tell him he should be in the middle? Are we saying that the only one who can take a decent corner is the bloody centre forward? It’s ridiculous. On the subject of the strikers: you said RvP looked sharp. In what way? His movement was woeful, his runs predictable and pedestrian, and he ndidn’t trouble the keeper once during the 90 minutes. Bendtner looks better out wide. His runs are north to south every game, there’s no lateral movement and no creation of space. Do you really think either looked like converting any of their chances? I didn’t.
    Saturday was dire, it showed the depth of our deficiencies, and leaves me VERY worried about whether 4th place is remotely achievable.

  11. Fatboy is right. What has pissed me off is the story that Wenger said to Sbragia “You should come here and play football”. That’s almost demented in my book. Why say that? Yeah they came and shut up shop, but that’s just another tactic for you to deal with. If that’s all it takes to outwit Arsenal, if there really is “no plan B” then that’s our problem, not theirs. If I was Sbragia I woulda replied “You should make us play football”.

    I can’t believe that his frustration is with the opposition and not with his own players inept display. This is perhaps one of the reasons they are improving so bloody slowly.

  12. Glad to see more people on here with some realistic perspectives. The sky is not falling and we have the most talented team in the EPL… Its will be a challenge but we can do it… I just hope everyone realizes they were wrong after the season…

  13. Good work. I have stop reading any negetive report about my team and i know we be in cl. Things are not look good right now, but we need to behind the lads and support them, give confidence and negetivity. If we can do this, we can even finish 3rd or 2nd.

  14. The simple fact of the matter is that at no other top club would Denilson and Song have been handed certain starting places by default. These guys couldn’t make 22man squads for the club last season so for them to all of a sudden be good enough to step into the shoes of those who have left is unrealistic. Theo Walcott genuinly earned a starting XI place but will likely lose it now, while one of Denilson or Song will retain theirs because the manager won’t impede their progress.

    The hierarchy doesn’t work; Ramsey or Wilshere offer more on the flank than Eboue does but still they have to wait in the queue even when we are chasing the game. It is disappointing but I’m hoping we can pull a performance out of the bag against Roma and try and get something out of our season.

    The thing is, this team is one top centre-back and central midfielder away from being title contenders.

  15. I think Nasri must play closer to Arshavin in CM from now on. This is how our midfield should lineup


    and when Walcott returns in less than 2 weeks


    Cesc will replace Deni when he returns. So our final product should look like this.


    maybe Toure can move up to the midfield to provide cover for the defense. The formation would be. 3-1-4-2. If we can stay within touching distance from the top4 (say 3points) until this team is assembled, we will comfortably finnish in the top 4.

  16. The team against Roma tomorrow.


    a 5man midfield is the best option imo

  17. We currently lie in 5th place after another lacklustre performance against Sunderland, another 0-0 draw and another home game where we were unable to win and unable to score. Aston Villa lost earlier in the day to Chelsea, where it was evident that neither team offered much more than we could. Neither team will challenge for the title and neither team should stand in our way if we could win our up and coming home games.

    But the cards were not in our favour, and on the day that we could have really climbed up the table, we failed to take advantage and with 12 games left this season, we still have to recover 6 points. We face United, Liverpool and Chelsea before the end of the season, and as a result, the games against Everton, West Ham and Sunderland, two at home, were “must win” games. We failed to win any of the three games and those six points will be even harder to recover now.

    Andrei Arshavin featured in the starting XI and he lasted 60 minutes. The first half was all about the Russian – very much smaller than I thought he was – in a very small Russian team, he didn’t look that small – but in a slightly taller Arsenal side, he looked very, very small. But he’s quality was there for all to see – he had a few shots, and most on target, he looked quick and he looked direct.

    Apart from the impressive debut, we basically created a little more than Sunderland but our finishing was woeful. Van Persie, somehow managed to miss the target after rounding the keeper, and Carlos Vela – who’s finishing had been amazing in the Carling Cup – missed two “sitters” from about 8 yards. The worst part of this performance was the lack of urgency to score and in the last ten minutes, seeing William Gallas act as an auxiliary centre forward and the misfiring Bendtner bounce around reminded me of the John Terry / Mourinho, “I don’t know what to do” games

  18. @ Fatboy – Some really good points, I can totally see where you’re coming from. I have a lot of respect for your opinion.

    I guess when I say they ‘won the midfield’ I mean that we had control of the game. I’m not a fan of the Denilson/Song combination, as you point out they’re far too slow in possession and lack creativity, problems I’ve spoken about in the past.

    I think what I mean is that given the players we have in there if we have control of the game, in terms of passing and possession, it’s about as good as we can expect. They did their job, earned the ability for us to pull off a defensive midfielder and shuffle Nasri in and I am disappointed that Wenger took so long to make that move.

    If we had Fabregas in the midfield I would be expecting more. With him plus Song we would have a pairing that can both win the control of the game and be incisive in attack. Denilson and Song both lack that ability and to expect any more of them would be overrating their talents.

    I admit that I’m a ‘glass half-full’ kind of guy but I sat down with those fixtures and was relatively generous to Villa and I still think we’ll be above them. They have some VERY tough games, are not in form at the moment and are likely to slide. We, on the other, are not looking like conceding and just need to sharpen up the attacking side of the game.

    I’m hopeful.

  19. A positive though from the last few games though…not many goals being leaked by the defense, which was the Arsenal weakness in the first half of the season. Just gotta fix the attack!

  20. To be honest, Song didn’t do his job well. A DM is supposed to be racking up loose balls, intercept and tackle players who are a threat.
    Song did the former but not the latter. Have a look at the game and see if he made any decent tackles. He looks unsure and hesitates to tackle which allows the said opposing players to drift in and cause mayhem. Not to say he’s completely hopeless, he plays a zonal marking system where he tries to hold the centre by going into position but this is where his inexperience shows. He drifts in to the right area but does not close down on the opposing players, content to block and not tackle. He lacks confidence in committing to a tackle, and would rather wait till the opposing player gets past whoever was marking him before running over and making his move. An experience player will predict the movement and by Gods, he is intelligent as he can read plays (judging from his interception).
    What Song lack and what Denilson lacks is an experienced midfielder to show the the ropes, teach them how to read the game better and impose themselves on the field.
    You know Song will have a good day when he flys in and tackle/win the ball early in the game.
    Denilson is clearly confused with his role and you can see his hesitation. When he partners Cesc, he is supposed to be the enforcer but when Cesc is injured, he is supposed to be the playmaker. And he tries, the defence splitting pass which lead to RVP lobbing the keeper wide is a good reminder that Denilson has potential!
    You can’t expect a manager, doing finances to do well immediately in marketing. You would expect a slight learning curve. Look out, if he overcomes that curves, he would be an enforcer and a creative player in the near future.
    Eboue, remember how we used to praise him? The sudden spiral wards deterioration in play comes when the midfield lost their senior players. Suddenly Eboue education is cut-short and he tries, by Gods look at him he tries but by doing so, he looks like a headless chicken. He is, infact clueless on what he supposed to do and an experienced senior player is needed to give him the much needed education.
    Bendtner is a misfit in the team.

    Have a look at Bendtner,he can dribble and cuts in if he has the confidence to do so, backtrack and tackle and stop play (did anyone notice he took over the defensive duties of Arshavin?), Link up play and added an additional threat on the right which we lost when Walcott was injured.
    In short, he is still learning his ropes and Wenger has gotten it right playing him wide, allowing him to play games and adding to his experience.
    If everyone doesn’t mind Vela playing wide and learning the ropes, why victimise Bendtner.

    The loss of Eduardo goes beyond losing an attacking option. Eduardo boost the confidence of the younger players, look at how well Vela and Bendtner plays when Eduardo was fit. Eduardo teaches these kids, how to hone their skills and most importantly reading plays, playing into position!

    Come on Gunners! They are still young! Support those who are rightfully learning the ropes and dish out your frustration on under-performing, lazy players like Adebayor!

  21. There used to be a time when Arsenal beat the opposition in the tunnel before the game. Sometimes it can appear that those days are no more.

    Unfortunately for Gooners, and Arsenal, we are seen as the soft touch of the so-called top four and the fear we used to generate through the Premiership seems to be at an all time low.

    Sides play Arsenal and believe that they can beat us. Or at least get something from the game. It used to be so different.

    We have become predictable and teams know that putting ten men behind the ball causes us real problems. We are finding it hard to break down sides when we used to have the answer.

    When teams “park the bus” in front of goal it shows an element of fear but more than anything it shows that teams have worked us out. Causing frustration for the players and especially us Gooners.

    I think that our lethargic starts to games doesn’t help. We seem very slow in our build up play and allow teams to get behind the ball. Which as we all know, causes us problems.

    We need to somehow get that fear back. As much as it pains me to say the current personnel in the Arsenal squad probably doesn’t help.

    Without trying to sound as though I’m making scapegoats the likes of Song, Denilson (although he has improved this season) and even Bendtner probably do not strike fear into the opposing side.

    Wenger can’t add to the squad until the summer now but the return of Eduardo, Fabregas, Rosicky, Walcott and the signing of Arshavin will add a lot more to this Arsenal side.

    We need to get behind the team until the end of the season and turn the Emirates into a cauldron. Perhaps if the players aren’t scaring the other team then maybe we Gooners can have a go?

    I believe we will finish in the top four but we need to get the fear back into us. Let other clubs dread playing us not fancy it.

  22. Another fantastic blog! i couldnt agree more with you.

    Like yiu were saying, the major problem i see at the moment is the lack of chances on goal (which is so frustrating to watch when there is massive domination), and as you say that can all be changed by more more creative play in the midfield. i think if Arshavin had have had more in him the game could have gone very differently.

    I also think that Vela will be a huge talent. He has skill on the ball like a baby fabregas.

    i guess i look forward to the second week in April 🙂

    Nice one SF.

  23. i think denilson is not good enough for arsenal as a midfield..

    against sunderland…wenger made mistake,by playing arshavin in right wing..

    in previous match before ‘draw games’..wenger played nasri as midfield..and we won..

    wenger said that denilson is better than last year, (it is, but still not good enough, he stil far from cesc)..i think it just ‘cheer up’ words from wenger to boost denilson before playing in olimpico roma!..

  24. I feel like it is less about ability then attitude. We need a guy in the middle of the park that is absolutely dominating and intimidating. Viera was that. I even think Flamini was that. A guy that when someone puts in a bad tackle will stand up to the other team and let them know that retaliation is coming… Real shame we let Flamini go but whats done is done and we need to focus on the future…

  25. Some really good points by everyone.

    Just a question: who thinks we’ll finish fourth and who thinks we’ll finish lower? Interested to see what people are thinking.

  26. I use to love reading this blog, but in all honesty its even more frustrating reading this happy go lucky blog as it is watching Arsenal now days…

    I have been watching Arsenal since i can remember, and i have never seen a WORSE arsenal team EVER…

    We dont play the way arsenal should play, without a good CM partnership you can never win anything… SONG, DENILSON, DIABY, and (i am so sh*t Eboue) should be playing in our reserves, purely because no1 would want to take them on loan.

    With song out of every 10 tackles he is supposed to make he makes 3 and out of the 3 tackles he might win 1. he is slow, not hard enough and cant pass the ball for the life of him. Denilson is an average squad player who belongs at a side like Stoke NOT Arsenal.

    When FAB CESC comes back we might have some hope because his class will lead our midfield.

    but for you thinking we can beat, Fulham, Blackburn (sam), Westbrom, Newcastle, Man city and Wigan. you should think again. We cant win a game right now, because the players we have on the pitch excepting for RVP, ARSHAVIN (THANK GOD) NASRI are tools. our defence is ok, but as soon as a side decides to have a go at us our midfield is far too weak to challend it and we wil catch a hiding.


    Flamini himself said that AC Milan wanted him more than Arsenal wanted him to stay…

    Oh but we bought Ramsey…

    lads of to the Uefa cup next season. Unless by some near miracle we win the CL.

  27. @Gibbs, really good point abt Song and deni mate, I also agree with you.
    @SF, Yes they ve controlled the ball,I agree!! but to say that we need both Song and Deni together to do Flamini’s “ALONE” Job, is totaly absurd.This is a movie that we’ve already watched and seen durin the Cardiff game.To me, Deni was supposed to be the AM and Song the CDM, but both are all kept to deep when we attack, no point for Deni to be on the pitch if he cannot do that job.We dont even want him to be creative like Diaby is trying to do but just to be present at least around the box when we attack.He doesnt have good run at all, to catch up with a counter attack, so what is he ther for?? to do Song’s Job? or to help Song???
    On the other hand, I really respect your positiv perspective and Im still very confident as much as all of us that WE WILL DEFNTLY GET TO THE TOIP 4, with Arshavin’s show yesterday, I think we do have Messi in England here, also Walcott now is ready from next week end (Official), and thats all we need.So keep up mate!!! good post!!!

  28. @ SF

    TBH, we dont deserve to be in the top4 this season. This is just a shocking season for us. But this doesnt mean that we wont be in the top4 at the end of the season. We deserved to win the EPL last season but we didnt, so you dont always get what you deserve.

    Like i said, we will comfortably secure a CL spot if we stay close enough to the top4 until April.

  29. @Peter G, totally right about Flamini, but wasnt AW’s mistake alone, the club is the first responsible for flamini’s case not AW.He really wanted him to stay but the club have always procrastinated the term, thats why Flamini didnt want to stay anymore.It was him who decided to go.

  30. @Gibbs,I agree mate, we dont realkly deserve it, Villa do, despite the hatefull heart I have toward these lads, however, we will get to the top4 but to say b4 the 4th April, we dont know!!!!!

  31. Well said SF. People seem to live in a mourning environment nowadays. When did Arsenal fans become moaners and mourners? Tell me a team missing Cesc, Adebayor, Da Silva, Rosicky, Walcott (5 would be first team players) that would fail to struggle. Arsenal fans go on and on about Song and Denilson, but will that change any thing this season? NO! I admit Song is not the best, may be he should be shipped to New Castle, but Denilson will be a star in two seasons. Believe me, and those who don’t want to admit it will eat humble pie when that time comes.
    Six points is not uncatchable. Would you bet on AV beating Liverpool and ManUre with their current squad?
    But I would bet that Arsenal can beat both, because by the time we play them, our injury list will have eased so much that Arsene will have a selection headache.

  32. I hear you, but the power that Wenger yields at Arsenal is sick, so if he really wanted to keep Flamini at the club he would have.
    Wenger picked his own Boss (our new CEO Galadzis) If we Had Flamini (our best player last season) even with all the injuries we would be challenging for the Title.

  33. I also agree with SF, Song and Denilson did not do wrong on Saturday. The whole problem stemmed from the fact that our foward line failed to score. Therefore they should be castigated as such.
    Song is a DM, and he did his job. Denilson should have taken on the creative mantle, he actually played the through pass that Van P failed to score. What more do you need them to do? They are not the best in the world, YES, but they did their job.
    We had atleast 4 very good chances against Sunderland, if our foward line is any good, surely one or two of those chances should have been buried.

  34. Unfortunately, I think it’ll be 5th. We’re now 6 points adrift of Villa and 7 off of Chelsea. There’s only 12 games to go, and with the injury list as it is, I think we’ll again drop points that weren’t expecting to (as on Saturday)over the next couple of weeks. I can see us finishing strongly with Eduardo, Fabregas and Walcott back, but I fear the damage will already have been done. We’re relying on Villa dropping an average of half a point per game more than us. That doesn’t sound a lot, but they’ve outperformed us so far this season. I know we haven’t been beaten since Dec 10th (Porto), but we’ve been unimpressive since then, with 8 draws and 5 wins. We have real problems in midfield and our attack is toothless. Yes, our defence has improved greatly, but it’s a while since we played anyone decent who will provide a test. In a perverse way, I hope we do miss out on the Champions League, in some ways. If we scrape into the CL, Wenger will insist everything’s OK and it’s all going to plan. If we don’t, he may be jolted into the kind of drastic action that I truly believe is necessary if we are to get our rightful place back at the top table. My fears about missing out on the CL are twofold. Firstly, it will cause serious financial problems for the club. No, we won’t go bankrupt or anything, but it will seriously hamper our ability to attract or afford top players. Secondly, and more importantly, I have real fears that we’ll lose Fabregas. He will undoubtedly be courted by Barca again in the summer, and if we can’t offer him CL football there is a real possibility that he’ll be off. With our current record of letting quality players go and not adequately replacing them, this is a real cause for concern. I hope I’m wrong, but I fear I’ll be proved right.

  35. I have been telling friends of mine from last year that arsenal’s greatest threat to CL football is A.Villa.I just don’t see A.Villa dropping more than 7 points at most unless they are hit by injuries to A.Young&Agbonlahor.They will loose to ManU,most likely draw against Liverpool,then draw or beat at least ManCity or Everton and beat all the other teams below them).Their pace and wide play quite unsettles many teams defenses and they score quite a bit from set pieces too.On the other hand our style of play is quite predictable and easy to close out.I hope AA and the return of Walcott will change this.A.Villa are far more ruthless when playing against small teams than Arsenal.Arsenal will most likely drop at least 9-11 points out of the available 36 and finish atleast 22 points behind ManU like the 2006/7 season i.e. we will most likely loose to ManU(3 points)draw with Liverpool and chelsea (4 points)and draw an additional 2 games (against ManCity and another small team).ManU will drop at most 5 points (draw with liverpool or loose and draw one or two games.).I don’t see chelsea dropping more points judging by how GuusHiddink has re-organized,re-invigorated and motivated the side.Change is as good as a rest.Do you think Arsenal is ripe for change at the top?You be the judge; results and the table do not lie.Its just sad that it will not happen-at least not in the foreseeable future but I wonder what it will take to see Arsenal play like they did more than 5 seasons back:I miss the fast breaks,the one-twos in the D and the triangles that were our hallmark.I could go on and on………….I decided as early as September 2008 (after losses to the likes of hull city,stoke city,fulahm etc) not to waste my emotions anymore on this side.It doesn’t matter anymore whether we finish 4th, 5th, 10th..In any case the chairman cares less and sounded comfortable with us playing in the UEFA cup as opposed to CL!…..but I know one day CHANGE WILL COME TO ARSENAL….some one give me back my old club.Had we gotten A.Arshavin in Aug.2008, it would have cost us an additional 5m pounds or thereabout but at least we would most likely be in serious contention for the EPL and a decent chance in CL.This way we would more than recoup our investment in him

  36. I wonder why Arsenal fans some times have short memory. Do you forget that the Flamini you talk about only played well in his favoured DM position in the last season of his 3-year Arsenal career.
    Would you trust a player who abandons a team that places so much faith in him to go and sit on the bench at another team just because he has been granted 5000 pounds more?
    Are you even aware that AC Milan has also not won the league since 2004 (like Arsenal), they have reached the final of CL once since (like Arsenal), the only plus being that they won it?
    Arsenal is not that bad! What if we reach the final this season, with Song and Denilson in the centre of midfield, would you suddenly laud them as the best in midfield?

  37. And Fatboy, when Cesc came to Arsenal, he was not playing CL football. If he goes, it’s fine because sooner or later he will go. This is my prediction, in the Summer, Arsenal will lose either/ or both of Adebayor and Van Persie. But even if they both go, Arsenal will be fine, they will bounce back and I can also predict that whoever goes and wherever they go, they won’t be as special as they have been at our club.
    These are the players that should have given their all to score, but since they don’t have the monitation any longer, it then would be just as well that they relocate.

  38. @ JohnW – I don’t agree with you that we’re all whinging and whining without reason. It’s true that we’ve all been spoilt for the best part of 10 years by the wonderful teams and thrilling football that we’ve seen since Wenger arrived. But that’s precisely the point my friend. How much of that do you see nowadays? AW always seemed to be able to find players capable of keeping us in the lofty position that he took us to. 10 seasons as Champions or runners up proves that. But the reality is that we haven’t finished in the top 2 since 2005. Has the manager lost his touch? The league positions at least, suggest that maybe he has. I don’t think it’s disloyal to voice concerns when the team’s performance has dropped so sharply this season, and has been deteriorating for 4 years. On the contrary, it shows how much we care about the fortunes of the team. How bad do we need to be, or how low must we finish in the Premiership before people like you begin to question what’s happening?

  39. @ JohnW – when Cesc came to Arsenal he was just a kid. He’s now a world class player (possibly the only one we’ve got). If you’re telling me that we’ll continue to attract promising youngsters, but fail to keep hold of them when they begin to realise their potential, I tell you that’s not going to be ggod enough to begin to challenge Man U, which is what we all want. Take a look at Man U right now. They’re on a different planet to us at the moment. There was a time in the recent past when we were competing with them and beating them to the title. The only difference in the intervening time has been that they’ve consistently strengthened their squad and we haven’t. Ask yourself this question honestly: how many of our players would get a game at Man U? Fabregas, yes, Arshavin maybe, going on his impressive debut. But who else? No-one mate, at least 9 out of our best 11 aren’t good enough for Man U. Go back 4 years and ask the same question. How many of the “invincibles” side would walk into the Man U first 11? 5 or 6 I would argue. That’s the difference. They’ve moved on, wwe haven’t.

  40. Precisely.Precisely.And for your information I see Man City breaking into the top four next season.They will bring on board a top coach and buy world class players thanks to the ptro-dollars of the owners as we at Arsenal continue hoping that the football authorities will introduce caps on how much a club can spend on players and salaries.Don’t the managment realize that the ground has shifted beneath them-if you want to get the best employees and retain them you have to be willing to spend.AA is a case in point.I have a serious problem with gooners who seem to worship the very ground that the manager walks on!For me God is the number one person in my life and when I see a mere mortal being equated to Him I shudder.The moment I saw that flag behind the goal with the inscriptions “in…..we trust” I knew it would be a difficult game for God shares His glory with no man.

  41. FATBOY i agree with you 100% Fabregas will walk into pretty much any best 11. His is superclass…

    John W, its sounds like you have only recently started watching arsenal (in the past 4 years) cause for any arsenal fan to be content with a denilson song CM partnership is a crime.

    and tomorrow night CL against Rome we will have problems because Wenger will have no choice (his own fault) but to play Denilson, Song and Eboue.

    the start of last season we had 3 awsome DM to pick from Gilberto, Flamini and Diara. Now who do we have SONG????

    And i dont know bout you guys, but it kills me every time i hear AW say that this team has potential and that denilson and song are progressing well???

    we are not a club that needs to progress well we are a club that SHOULD be challenging for Trophies…

    I hope ROMA have a nightmare tomorrow night like they did against MANU 2 seasons ago….

    cause DANIELI DE ROSSI will show Arsene Wenger how important it is to have a BALL WINNER in your side to kick start attacks…

  42. Just like fatboy,at some point i was feeling like we should loose out on 4th place, get knocked out of CL by Roma, loose out on UEFA in the 2009/10 season, get knocked out of the FA and finish 8th or thereabout in the EPL. Be sure that this crisis will force the top guys into carrying out some serious radical surgery at the club to bring back the glory years.The only risk is of course that we will most likely loose our best talents to Barca, Ac Millan and other moneyed clubs

  43. i really donno what 2 say bout that game but Arshavin’s display was wonderful,made me think of a combi of Arshavin,Fabregas,Walcott and Nasri in the midfield,with Van P and Eduardo as the strikers,backline as long as clichy n Sagna and Djorou are there,i think it’s a lethal combination.let’s just pray that the injured get well soonest.keep the faith gunners

  44. @ Fatboy

    There are a few players that are good enough ManU. I dnt know why you are compairing us ManU but here goes.
    1. Toure: a member of the invincibles, English champ, FA cup winner
    2. Gallas: Confed cup winner, two time English champ
    3. RvP: FA cup winner, World cup quarter-finalist
    4. Cesc: member of the invincibles, English champ, FA cup winner, Euro winner
    5. Arshavin: Uefa cup winner, Super cup winner, Russian champ, Euro semi-finalist.

    There is a lot of quality in this Arsenal team mate.

  45. fellow gooners. this is more than a slip up. look at our trends for the past 5 years we need to shore up midfield and defence. it is time to take stock of resources assess deeply in the coming year and look at next years programme. the bleeding must stop now.

  46. @ Gibbs – I’m comparing us to Man U because they are the best team in the country and that’s where I think both you and I would like Arsenal to be. About your list: you correctly list a few of the achievements, but ask yourself when most of these trophies were won. The lads in the Man U team are winning them NOW, not 5 years ago. Do you seriously think that either Gallas or Toure would get a game ahead of Ferdinand or Vidic? Not in a million years my friend. And would you leave out Rooney, Tevez or Berbatov to give Van Persie a game? Come on mate, he’s not in any of their leagues. Arshavin will hopefully prove to be a quality addition to the team. I was at the game on Saturday, and I thought he did really well in his debut, but he does look extremely small (I thought he was the mascot when he walked out onto the pitch!).

  47. @ Fatboy
    maybe Gallas and Kolo arent as good as Rio and Vidic at the mo, but RvP is just as good if not better than Rooney, Berbatov and Tevez. At the moment he scored more goal than all 3 ManU strikers this season. He’s never played a full season and i think we havent seen the best of him yet. But anyway, i get your point, ManU have more superstar quality players than we do.

  48. Just when you think you’ve heard it all, out of the radio comes a quote from the Professor, saying the title race is certainly not over and Utd are not convincing! That was this afternoon on Radio 5 Live. Don’t worry – I’m not stupid enough to believe that Arsene thinks we have the remotest chance of winning the Prem – what he probably meant was it isn’t necessarily over for the teams in second or third place currently, but cummon! If Utd (and I hate them more that Spurs) are not convincing – just where the hell does that leave our sad bunch! A tip for you, AW – this is not the time to be coming out with any pearls of wisdom!

  49. I am still tying to understand why Wenger brought in Eboue. I just cant figure out why. It seemed like Wenger suddenly decided to go for the draw when the game was there to be won. What was wrong in bringing in Wilshire? I hate to say this but it seems Wenger is slowly but surely loosing it. And what was the purpose of playing 2 DMs? At this reate I wont be surprised if Vela or Wilshire is snapped up by some other teams next season as the boss seems to have no confidence in them. What about Bischoff? sSomeone please tell me what is it with Wenger and Eboue?

  50. How I hope and pray you’re right SF. But even if..and its a big IF.. we’re on top by april we still have to play man u, chelsea and liverpool. If villa can sustain their run(and our recent results will certainly give them hope)then we might actually be dropping out of champions league places.. A bit scary i have to admit.Its something i’ve never experienced before..

  51. Lets just hope that Deni and Song will not be together in the CM tomorow, and Vela would be in the startin 11

  52. @ Fatboy / Peter Georgiadis – I think people are getting the idea that I think all is going well for the club and that I’m happy with the Denilson/Song partnership, which is absolutely not true. We need a better midfield if we want to challenge high up the table.

    BUT… Denilson and Song won the midfield on Saturday to the point where we had all the ball. They were not doing much with the ball but they were always in possession. It’s not their fault that the manager did not realise that given how comfortable we were, there was no point having two overly defensive midfielders on the pitch. He should have acted more promptly and switched Nasri into the middle earlier – that was the only way we were going to break Sunderland down. That the manager failed to act was very frustrating.

    I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Aston Villa failed their very first test against a big side in the second half of the season and they looked tired and out of ideas. Their squad is small and they have UEFA Cup games to play and they could be stretched too far. My feeling is that they’re about to come into a bit of a tough run and we need to capitalise on that – I’d be less confident of us doing so if we were conceding goals rather than not scoring them, but it’s the other way around. As such, with Arshavin’s introduction and the return of Eduardo I do feel we can get a run on. Wenger just needs to act more swiftly to play an attacking midfielder in situations where teams ‘park the bus’.


  53. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that Eboue will start tomorrow. I just really hope Vela starts out left, Nasri slides to the middle and Song gets left at home. Of course that will never happen though. I’d be ecstatic if Gibbs or Toure slotted in as dm and neither Denilson nor Song saw the pitch.

    BTW, what other forward options do we have available not named RVP or Bendy for tomorrow’s match? I think AW will make the mistake of benching Vela as cover up top and starting the woefully inadequate pair of slow and slower in the middle.

    But I will be cheering and drinking and yelling at the TV no matter what. If you’re anywhere near the middle of the US I’m sure you’ll hear me.

  54. Song will play tomorrow. De Rossi is a monster in the m iddle and we need at least some physicality in there. I really think Nasri should play in there as well. We will need some quality in the middle to get past DDR.

  55. The thing is Song and Denilson won the midfield because sunderland didn attack at all…

    they didn do anything with the ball other than pass it side ways…

    so it didn really matter…. song cant protect the back four and denilson cant spark any life into attack….

    i do agree however, with Eduardo coming back and Arshavin and then 2 weeks wallcot 2 weeks fabregas 2 weeks some Czech midfielder( i think his name is Rosicky, the guy who pulls his hammy and is out 4 weeks to a year) then bring on the Chelski Liverpigs and manshitster…

    truth be told, i hope Wenger has learned his leason that yes it is all good to have 22 super young talents, but you cant challege for anything without expirienced CLASS…

    i also agree RVP is amazing and yes he is def better than Rooney Berba and Teves….

    hopefully he bangs us into the CL quarter finals…. he is our only hope tomorrow…

  56. This is the first time I read this blog. And, this is the most comical interpretation I read about Arsenal’s game against Sunderland FC.

    By the way, according to poll 0 percentage gooners want to see Song/Denilson or Song/Diaby partnership. It was a voice of thousands of Arsenal fans. This blogwritter’s views about Song/Denilson partnership is so delusive. Sorry man, but it’s so hard to agree with your views.

    I was at Emirates Saturday afternoon where I heard so many complains about our central midfield pairing. Some of my thoughts:

    Positionally Alex Song is the worst Arsenal midfielder I have seen in my life. That includes Arsenal teams I was watching in the 70s by the way. Song is positionally poor, he is the wrong side of his man every time. His tackling is weak and his passing is ridiculous. His job is to keep play ticking over with short sharp passes. It was never Gilberto Silva’s job to create and he hardly ever did – but yet Arsenal fans appreciated him on the whole (or should I say came to appreciate him). Song is shocking. He is a dreadful, dreadful footballer. And the fact some people are attempting to defend the lad by claiming he is being scapegoated is laughable. Hilarious. I was at that game and it seems most of the 60,000 people there thought Song was lame.

    I had a drink with a few Sunderland fans after the game and they all stated that in terms of the midfield battle, it was the most comfortable they had ever seen Tainio and Malbranque all season. Like I said the number of times Tainio span off Song was unreal. The number of teams Malbranque and Whitehead crept in behind Denilson was untrue. But because Sunderland were wasteful, it is being spun as us being ‘solid’? What?

    You are not going to ever convince me that Song/Denilson are Premiership quality – let alone Arsenal quality. No chance. Worst Central midfield pairing in premier league. Everton/Westham midfield has better attributes, character than Song/Denilson.

  57. @ SF – How many times have you said, we have this team this week so we will win and Villa will drop points v this team. Sure enough Villa drop points but we fail to win. If we had won our last 3 league games, we would be level with Villa right now. Its hard to deny Villa have a harder fixture list than us atm, but something tells me they will pick up more points. Fulham beat us 1-0, City romped us with a 3-0 win. Wigan are doing good. I jsut hope we win. However soon we have Eduardo and Walcott back and the manager is hopeful Rosicky will be back in the next 3-4 weeks so a very creative midfield could return and then we could start scoring, just hope it isnt to little to late.

  58. I think roma will win this tie.

    DeRossi and the roma midfield will be far too good for Arsenal.

    I rate DeRossi as top 5 midfielder in the world. I think the Beast Baptista will cause damage to arsenal.

    Roma are a really good side. Im not sure if Totti is playing but if he is out then arsenal can consider themselves a small chance.

  59. @ Daniel Highbury – I appreciate your comments. While I don’t agree that Song is a horrible, horrible footballer I do agree that the Denilson/Song combination is not good. It is well below what Arsenal should be playing, I admit. Nothing in this article says otherwise.

    However, they won the midfield battle on Saturday and with their limited potential as a partnership that is all that can be expected of them. As a pair they just don’t have the ability to be incisive and create chances for the forward. My criticism does not lie with the pair for being played but with the manager for leaving the club in the position where there is no other option but to play them.

  60. @ jay-jay – Fair enough, previous results certainly support your view. I guess it’s just a bit up in the air and very difficult to predict exactly what will happen. I just feel we look relatively solid at the moment, aren’t conceding goals and that with some tweaking up front and the inspiration of Arshavin in the Premier League these 0-0s will start to turn into 1-0s and 2-0s. Hopeful maybe, but judge me once we get to the 4th of April. 🙂

  61. @ Spanish Fry; How could you tell that Song/Denilson won the midfield battle? Their job is to support defence at times and support the attack when we are attacking. My problem with this pairing is that they are both defensive. Neither of them can be counted as playmakers simply because they cannot pass the ball forward OR they have footballing IQ.

    So, Wenger’s decision to play Song/Denilson against a defensive minded Sunderland team was suicidal. For god’s sake we were not playing Barca or Milan. It was a Championship standard team Sunderland. If Arsenal has “youth policy” why couldn’t Wenger thow either Merida or Wilshere as creative midfielder. Don’t you think this midfield is better than Wenger’s midfield against Sunderland:

    Wilshere, Denilson/Song, Nasri, Vela. This could have been more aggressive and creative midfield. Where is Arsene’s youth policy when Eboue, Song and Denilson are trusted over quality young talents?

    Let’s move to Roma game. Personally I think we have to win this game to have any chances of progess. Last year I thought 0-0 will do against Milan but this year we must win at home. Roma are dangerous team in Rome. Vucinic, Totti, De Rossi, Aqualini and Mexes are all quality proven players. I remember Vucinic terrorising Vidic/Ferdinand & Terry/Carvalho Defense this season. Toure/Gallas might get terrorised too. Walcott will get back to the team for second leg but Cesc will be still out. I can only hope that RVP and Nasri will be at their best tomorrow. Last year, Diaby was solid against Milan. Lets hope he will come good tomorrow if he plays. I would also like to see Vela start ahead of Eboue.

    Teams like Bayern and Milan got relegated to Europa League but they came back strongly next season. I don’t see that happening with us if we lose the 4th spot. Tuck tuck…. Bayern after losing Champions league spot responded by acquiring Ribery, Toni and Klose. Milan signed Flamini(Arsenal’s best player for last season), a European Champion and twice Footballer of the year in Ronaldinho. Signed Zambrotta also. They managed to keep Kaka and developed a worldclass talent in Pato. Arsenal has been a selling club for many years and this trend will continue. We have a chance of losing star players like Adebayor, Van Persie, Walcott and Fabregas. Those mentioned players are ambitious who might not be satisfied with Europa league. Arsenal won’t be able to attract good players just beacuse Arsenal’s management is very unambitious. Also we haven’t won anything for many years. Our “Cl league football” mantra to attact players will be gone.

    I am fearing the very worst here. Even if we lose 4th spot this season, Song will continue to play more games, Vela and Wilshere will be outplaced by Eboue. Almunia will be given an improved contract offer. Gallas will be sold and Senderos will return to the first team. Injuries will continue cause many of our players are crocks: Rosicky, Nasri, Persie, Diaby…..

    In Arsene we DON’T trust!

  62. @ Daniel Highbury – “Wilshere, Denilson/Song, Nasri, Vela. This could have been more aggressive and creative midfield.”

    Agreed. My point is that Song and Denilson cannot be blamed for being selected. It’s Wenger who was at fault, and leaving both Song and Denilson in the middle for so long, with the midfield clearly ours, was a poor decision.

    In the end, I really think we’re arguing the same point. I get the feeling that people think I’m endorsing the Song/Denilson partnership in this blog which is absolutely not my intention. I just think the pair did as well as could be reasonably expected from them against Sunderland, given their individual limitations as players.

  63. If we see the same midfield pair against Roma, we might get murdered by Roma. When they play well, they are more clinical than even Milan or Inter. Dangerous team.
    The best option possible for us is to defend very well and score an odd goal. This team have played very well when playing against good teams like United, Liverpool and Chelsea. We can only hope for that. Wenger might again fuck his team selection to get worse possible result.

  64. Non-Arsenal view.
    Bundesliga is looking very exciting this season. Martin Jol’s Hamburg topping the table followed by promoted team Hoffeinheim. Hertha Berlin also performing very well this seaosn.

    Are all spuds manager becoming successful after leaving spuds? Juande Ramos & Martin Jol. Reason is spuds are shit organization. Hehe…

    At least I can enjoy watching Spuds.

  65. @ Daniel – Did you listen to the Football Weekly podcast? Germany is certainly exciting. It’s just a pity the team I support, Werder Bremen, aren’t up the top 🙁

  66. I am a bit late so here’s my two cents worth. I predicted Arsenal will finish fifth couple months back and it seems a very likely possibility.

    I hope it dosen’t but it’ll be a good step for players like deni and song whoes standards are mid table teams at best. I have seen enough to see that they won’t be stepping up their play and have reached the limit of their ability.

    If we lose to Roma I hope it will be an eye opener to Arsene and he does something next season. AFC is so pathetic nowadays that we have to hope that villa or chelsea drop points, sad, we can’t even get to fourth on our own by winning games.

  67. i hope niklas,song,eboue would be sold next season..they dont deserve a place in the arsenal team…

  68. such negativity.
    everyone comparing this team to the invincibles, to ManU’s team and every other team in EPL

    people tend to forget before the invincibles, there was a slump of form which led to people questioning Wenger wasting funds buying Henry, Viera & Petit pairing is too defensive, How bad Flamini is, How Cesc is not good enough, How bad Lauren is, Why did we sell Ashley Cole when Clichy is not good enough, How bad Gilberto is playing, Why did Wenger buy Helb?

    The list goes on and on. A good recent example is when Gilberto left, Helb left, we all noticed the gap, the lack of thrust forward, the shaky defensive and suddenly we get comments oh why did we sell them.

    Negativity. its ok to be passionate and vent out your passion, to complain about team selection, hell i do it sometimes and i remember getting ridiculed for my comments about Adebayor being lazy and the heaps of ridicule coming my way about me not being a true Gooner.

    Well look at the comments above. This team is in transition again, if we finish 4th or 5th, if AFC says we can survive, we will survive. I didnt spend half my life supporting Arsenal and Wenger to ditch them when they are down.

    Roma FC? bahh.. easy. we will win that one.

  69. Its such a pity that Arsene has taken the shine out of our faces.The team has become so inconsistent.We don’t win games like we use to and disappointingly the fluid and entertaining football play we are known for is no longer there.Can somebody please wake Arsene up from his slumber?.How sad.

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