Complacent Arsenal need to switch on again

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It’s been a quiet week so far for Arsenal as they prepare for the weekend Premiership clash with Fulham. There’s no midweek game to worry about for Arsene Wenger and his side and for that reason a lot of the comments coming from the club are still focused on the weekend draw with Birmingham. The manager has been quite candid about his side’s performance and backed that up with a very interesting point yesterday.

“We were caught in the feeling, during the game, that it would be easy and that’s a good lesson for us. In 22 games this season we have played well in 21 of them. Now we want to come back to what we really are.”

Arsene Wenger was not happy with Arsenal’s weekend performanceI guess the thing that’s most interesting about that statement is that Arsenal have not played well in every other game apart from the Birmingham one. From a footballing perspective Arsenal were dreadful in the loss to Middlesbrough and there have been other poor performances, against Portsmouth and Newcastle among others.

The manager is always quick to defend his side when they put in 100% effort and a good performance does not eventuate but judging by these comments he’s not convinced that his side put in maximum effort against Birmingham. Complacency is not something that any manager would want their side to display and it’s clear by his words that it is something he feels Arsenal showed on Saturday.

One player who could rarely be described as being complacent is Gael Clichy. By all reports he was one of the standout performers against Birmingham, however the French left-back was quick to agree with his manager’s assessment of Arsenal’s attitude towards the game. Clichy admitted that he and his teammates were not switched on after half-time for the goal that Birmingham scored despite some clear words of warning from Wenger, but also emphasised that Arsenal have not lost their focus and are looking forward to the task ahead.

“When you concede a goal at the start of the second half from a set-piece, you have to say we were not ready from the off. The boss warned us about that at half-time and so there was really a sense of disappointment. We are still there for the title and we are going to show that against Fulham in the next match.”

The feeling I get from most Arsenal supporters just now is that the boys need to dish out a bit of a belting to Fulham to force the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea and indeed the smaller clubs in the England to sit up and take notice. While I don’t think it’s an absolute necessity I do agree that it would strike some much-needed fear into the little sides. At this point in time there’s no doubt that Manchester United have a psychological hold on the smaller clubs in the Premiership. Indeed, it seems just now like the sides they’re playing are already defeated mentally before they step out on the pitch.

A big win against Fulham could certainly do Arsenal some good. But in truth, any sort of win and a good performance would keep me happy.

Henri Lansbury is proof of the young English talent that Arsenal possessEnglish talent on the way

Other interesting bits of news from the past couple of days have all come from the mouth of the manager. For the launch of Arsenal TV yesterday Wenger was asked some questions about the state of the youth setup at the club and came back with the somewhat astonishing response that it may be possible for the club to field an all-English starting team in the future. As he also adds though, for now that’s just not possible.

“Maybe 80 per cent of the academy are English and 20 per cent are foreign. I would prefer to field English players [but] you want the club to be successful. At the moment we thought it was not possible for different reasons.”

The main reason of course is that at the moment English players are far too overpriced. This is an issue that has been discussed in a lot of detail by numerous people over the past few months and it’s not something I’m going to go into now. Although I am Australian and have no real affiliation to the English national team I do feel that clubs do have a responsibility to nurture players of the same nationality of the league they play in, so it’s good to hear Arsenal’s academy has so many young English players. Hopefully this will keep the media off Wenger and the club’s back for a little while.

Last but not least today is the news that Wenger went to some effort to sign David Beckham back in 2004. The approach was made at the time when Beckham was struggling to make an impression in his first season in Spain with Real Madrid but in the end the Englishman decided to stay.

It’s a bit of tale of what could’ve been, I feel. In my eyes Beckham is the only truly world-class player England have produced in the past decade and his crossing ability would have added a new dimension to Arsenal’s game at the time. Given his injuries over the past few years it’s difficult to tell how much of a success he could have become but at the end of the day he stayed in Madrid and speculating is not really worth it.

That’s it for today. Before I go I just want to give another quick shout out to the Arsenal FC Blog’s major sponsor, Arseshirts. For those of you who haven’t checked their site out in a while, they’ve added a new section where you can customise your own Arsenal gear and it’s really quite clever. If you get the chance I’d encourage you to have a play around and see what you can come up with. More tomorrow then.

What do you think?

Have your say on today’s article by leaving a comment.


15 thoughts on “Complacent Arsenal need to switch on again

  1. Sf-I thought the gooners need cheering up. Watch Tour Eboue and Ade doing an African dance in the Emirates car park.

  2. They werent complacent for Gods sake.You Gunners need toi accept the fact that Birmingham had a game plan and it worked.Besides they are a good team and just look at their results against the big three and Liverpool.They were beaten home and away one nil against Manutd , lost three goals to two against Chel$ea and drew with Looserpool.They are a decent enough team and could i mean could have just lost you guys the title.

  3. Artwellmanutd – I never said that Birmingham didn’t have a game plan or that it didn’t work. The feeling is that Arsenal switched off because they were leading and that is why Wenger (and Clichy) were unhappy. It has nothing to do with Birmingham not being a good side, more that Arsenal took the win for granted.

  4. I think we need to forget about the Birmingham game now and look foward to the Fulham game.I really hope to see RVP in top form again, it will give everybody a lift.All top teams have match winners.To me he is the only one who can create something out of nothing.

  5. Yeah. It’s so frustrating that he’s been out for so long. While I don’t feel he’s the ONLY player who can create something out of nothing (I’d put Fabregas and Hleb in that category too) having him back will make us more dangerous. Plus, it will make Adebayor play better as well.

  6. Gilberto and Lehman couldn’t just walk into the team after “injuries”/absence, especially when players deputizing were doing well. I believe in Wenger’s mind, RVP has to work his way back in the team just like anybody else, especially with Adebayor, Eduardo, and even Bendtner in good form. If that happens, Gilberto and Lehman and even myself will accuse Wenger of double standards, and rightly so. That is why he is being sidelined. We may not see him start @ Fulham. It might be hard to sell to fans, why the player of the month can’t get a start, especially after he achieved it by playing only about half of arsenal games in the month. I would love to see him in the side against Fulham but I would like to see both Adebayor and Eduardo in the side. If this happens, I predict a clobbering.

  7. are you dreaming SF…Beckham would never ever go to arsenal and play for them..he is united all the way…
    also i highly disagree he is disagree in the statement about him being the only true world class english player…

    Mate id say Shearer, Paul Gasgone, Paul Scholes, Soon to be Rooney…are all better and of higher class than Becks…Becks is good but not the best

  8. Although I can see where you’re coming from I personally don’t feel that any of the players you mentioned ever performed to the level that he did so consistently on the World stage. Beckham was a class above in my opinion. Perhaps only Gascoigne was up there, and his last great performance was at Euro 96, 12 years ago. Time flies!

    Also, I never said that Beckham would or wouldn’t have gone to Arsenal, just that he would have been a nice addition to the team.

  9. as if becks has performed on a consistant basis for england….thats so untrue…id say Owen has done more for england then becks has…
    becks has done some great things but really id have to say he did some bad things aswell…not consistant in my opinion

  10. I won’t deny that he’s had some downs; the red card against England and the penalty miss against France stick out. But he’s done a lot; he was the standout in Euro 2000 when everyone else failed, played well before the quarter-final exit in 2002 and scored the free-kick to get England to Euro 2004. Then in 2006 he basically single-handedly dragged an underperforming England to the quarter-finals again with his dead-ball skills.

    He’s not perfect but I still think he’s a cut above any other England performer. He’s shown it time and time again at club level as well both with Manchester United and then Real Madrid. He’s class and he’s done more than Owen or anyone else for England in the past decade.

  11. I think Arsenal will punish Fulham this weekend. I think its rubbish about Arsenal falling off pace for the title.. did people already forget… Man Utd showed the same kinda preformence against West Ham as Arsenal did against Brimingham, and nothing was said, its apart of football. Some games the guys just cant play to the best of their ability. Im expecting a big win over Fulham.

  12. SF – this might have been addressed in a previous comment from another reader, but Beckham the only good english player in the last 10 years? Hrm, I’d put players like Scholes, Terry, Campbell, Ferdinand ahead of him. Much of the english problem, I think, is that their midfield is not balanced correctly, and that apart from Rooney (when he is fit to play for them), their strikers are not all that good compared to strikers for other countries. Owen is too injury prone and should be left to get a good run of form in the league before playing english games, and crouch is not effective.

    Also, england seemingly always have terrible managers. Perhaps capello will sort them out.

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