Wenger again the culprit in Stoke capitulation

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It’s no understatement to say that everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Arsenal on a dreadful Saturday afternoon at Stoke.

A loss to one of the weaker sides in the competition? Check. Serious injuries to three critical first-team players? Check. A deserved sending off for another key player? Check. A team performance so lacking in desire and cohesion that they would have done better not to turn up at all? Check.

Put the injuries to one side and it’s hard to argue the fact that the blame for this defeat falls squarely on the shoulders of the manager and his team. Rory Delap may have been the hero with his missile-like throw-ins but it was Arsene Wenger and his side who were very much the villains in a performance which began on the wrong foot with some bizarre team selections and got progressively worse as the contest rolled on.

It is not the first time this season I have criticised Wenger for his team selections – take this rather cutting critique of his managerial performance against Everton, for example – but on Saturday the Frenchman’s efforts were as poor as I’ve ever witnessed. To start with four central midfielders was an awful error and one which paid far too much respect to Stoke. Wenger has since explained that he had hoped to nullify Stoke’s aerial threat by playing a taller, tougher, more narrow line-up but the outcome of the match and the quality of the performance presents the undeniable conclusion that he made a mistake.

It’s very easy to say in hindsight that playing a more traditional Wenger line-up, one with two out-and-out wingers, would have stretched the Stoke defence and allowed an outlet for Arsenal’s counter-attacking to put them in the box seat. But hindsight was not required to work this out. The warning shot had been fired on Wednesday night when Theo Walcott’s substitution against Tottenham saw us lose our ability to stretch their opponents and subsequently gave them an invitation back into a contest they scarcely deserved.

What worries me most about Wenger’s managerial performance against Stoke was not that he altered the team in an attempt to counter his opponents. In many ways this is a good thing, evidence that the manager is not as set in his ways as many supporters think and can adapt when he feels it is necessary. No, what worries me most is that the changes he made were so horribly wrong.

By starting with the side he did Wenger changed our team’s mentality from one which proudly boomed “we’re going to score more goals than you!” to one which whispered “we’re going to concede less goals than you”. And while that sort of shift in mentality would be somewhat welcome in the odd fixture – a Champions League away game, for example – to adopt that mentality against Stoke was suicidal.

You see, Stoke are so reliant on Delap’s throw-ins that they are never going to have more than one or two goals in them regardless of who they play. As an opposition side, if you choose not to attack them then you run more of  a risk of those one or two moments becoming game-defining, which is exactly what happened against Arsenal.

If Wenger sent his side out to play in the attacking way that they are so comfortable with it’s likely that we would have run out comfortable winners. Perhaps 2-1, 3-1, 3-2 or 4-2. But the feeling I get is that the four goals conceded in the draw with Tottenham spooked Wenger into playing more defensively than they ought to and this change in mentality brought about their downfall. It was an indication of Wenger going out to prove a point rather than doing what was required to take the points at the end of the day.

The ramifications of this defeat to Stoke are huge. Despite being just six points off the top, the team have been written off as title-contenders by the media and will go into next week’s crucial home game against Manchester United without Adebayor, van Persie, Sagna and Walcott. That means Nicklas Bendtner alone up front and a significantly weaker right-side open to be exploited by Sir Alex Ferguson via his most dangerous weapon, Cristiano Ronaldo. Any which way you look at it, things don’t look promising.

What’s even more of a concern is the consistently poor team selections being made by the manager and the distinct lack of effort and focus the team have shown all too often this season. While I can understand Wenger’s decision not to sign a replacement for Mathieu Flamini in the hope that Denilson or Alex Song would step up to the plate, I simply cannot understand some of the team selections he has made. The decision to play Denilson and Diaby as wingers against Stoke was one example, Song at right-back at Everton another.

Wenger must stop his needless fiddling now if Arsenal are to get back on track. He needs to get back to picking the right players in their natural positions and stop trying to be too cute about things. That means resisting the temptation to play WIlliam Gallas and Kolo Toure together, putting Abou Diaby in the middle of the park and ensuring that Samir Nasri and Theo Walcott are given the consistent game-time their performances have merited. Otherwise it’s going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

It may have gone horribly wrong for Wenger and Arsenal at Stoke, but my tendency to be positive makes me think that the awful experience could well be the catalyst for some welcome changes and a necessary injection of pressure on the team to perform. Wenger and the boys must find the spirit and willingness to play for one another that was so evident last time around or this season will slip away faster than anybody could have predicted.

Which would be an awful shame given how close we came to winning last season.

Thoughts? Have your say on Arsenal’s loss to Stoke by leaving a comment.


69 thoughts on “Wenger again the culprit in Stoke capitulation

  1. it doesn look so good for arsenal.. this could be a disastrous season for us i fear.. all we can hope to do is that wenger would make additions to our squad when the transfer window opens.. and those need to be really quality additions.. not players who can start proving their worth aftr a yr or 2.. but january is still 2 months away.. and i cannot imagine what is going to happen in those 2 months.. losing out on chances to win against small teams is not good..

  2. We’re in a bit of trouble, is van Persie’s red card a 3 game ban? because our next 4 games are Man United, Chelsea, Villa and City. Certainly not looking good. I just can’t believe Wenger can make so many poor decisions, it’s just rediculous. I’m not going to say the season is over yet, but looking at the next month of fixtures, it certainly could be come Christmas.

  3. I strongly advice that fans boycott the stadium for our home games.why? Wenger has lost it. I personally believe we will beat man u then slump to lesser teams as usual.I wont be watching the games as i have given myself a 5 match watching ban.it helps.I saw the result of stoke but i didnt watch the match.Thank God.
    Good luck guys in our race for 4th again

  4. @ Panda Bear – Van Persie’s ban will be for 3 games as far as I can tell. He’s a big loss. It was a stupid thing to do and he let down the team and the manager. Very frustrating.

    The next month is going to be epic. It will shape our season. You get the feeling that we’re going to be right back in it or right out of it. If it’s to be the latter then Wenger needs to get his act together.

  5. @ SCOPE KNIGHT – Boycott the stadium because Wenger has lost it? I’m sorry mate but that’s ridiculous. He’s making mistakes but there’s no reason to do something as over the top as that.

    If you want stop watching for five matches, go ahead, but the rest of us will be supporting the team we love. Results don’t change the fact that the rest of us will be watching and supporting the club.

  6. Well, the prof knows it all! B4 the season kicked off we al saw the need 4 strengthening the team. Anyone expecting a miracle now is a dreamer. Pls, let the gaffer do the needful: get 3 world-class players.

  7. Hopefully Eduardo is back for the Chelsea game, I hope its not Niklas upfront on his own, Him and Vela play fantastic together and Vela is a good talent, AW would be foolish not to play them 2 upfront. However the loss of Walcott is big and as Sagna is out injured Eboue will be at RB meaning Diaby or Denilson will be on the wing.

  8. Totally agree with the article. Withdrew forwards vs Spura and handed over the initiative, I looked at team sheet for Stoke and thought ‘no width’ ‘no balance’ ‘no chance’. Very negative and very dissapointing.

  9. looks like our season will end early this year. With the present team coupled with injuries I could not see us doing well against MU and Chelsea. A draw against both these teams will be a n excellent result.
    AND, I totally disagree with those fans calling for Wenger’s sacking. If he were to leave, it should only be done at the end of the season,not in the midst of it. Not the Arsenal way. There must be stability and continuity.

  10. Wenger owes the fan an apology. It was his decision to not bring in some experienced players has cost us big time. There seems to be no desire, leadership, composure and quality to win the title. It was his ARROGANT decision not to spend money has left us playing with denilson,song,silvestre.
    After last season , Wenger admitted that it is the defending that cost us the title and there was no need for any creative players. spot on.
    Then after august what signings did we make ? silvestre ? where was our defensive midfielder ? and if clichy or sagna is injured who plays at the back – denilson ?… give me a break.
    I dont want to get depressed watching every match because of one man’s ARROGANCE .
    I respect Wenger for what he has done for the club and everything, but at this point of time he has to take responsibility for his decisions.
    For those who believe still that “Arsene knows” and still we can win the premier league title, all the best.
    The best shot for us is at winning some cup, I am being over optimistic.
    Arsene’s “youth policy” has miserably failed and it is big time he realized it. We have got nothing except some gems like fabregas,clichy and some exciting performances but nothing closer to a team with a character who can fight till their last breath no matter they win or lose.
    I would have really loved to see Arsenal win the title and I really feel bad that the situation is so bad that I am writing all this feeling so pessimistic…

  11. @Spanish Fly, ridiculos or not i think something drastic has to be done by and to AW to inimate him of the fans displeasure.
    I can not argue over the fact that anyone loves arsenal but I think we all have the right to vent our frustration that 5 years and more we might win nothing. It is dead annoying.
    My 5 match watch ban is personal and has helped me in the past with those kids.
    I sincerely think AW should leave.I am tired of this rebuilding shit Fergie was lucky with it but even then he had leaders on the pitch. We are lacking a leader who in turn will be a leader to 3 leaders (mid-field, defence and attack). Sometimes i wonder the conversation in the arsenal changing room with kids probably showing off their new nike trainers or ipod.Funny but true.
    I have this lovely picture i got from the emirates of the 100 club ie guys that have scored 100 goals for arsenal and you could see Dennis,Titi and Ian. Those were men not boys.Men who had families who had ambition, who saw football as a means to an end not kids that are probably over-hyped by their manager.
    Problems arsenal had before pre-season and we all knew were
    1.Letting flamini and gilberto go at the same time
    2.Not bringing in a replacement for Lehman and Flamini
    3. Putting that clown aluminia as number 1
    4.Not buying central defenders and selling Gallas to PSG.

    wE FEEL THE PROBLEMS IN ARSENAL WILL GO IN THE NEXT TWO MATCHES YOU MUST BE KIDDING ME!!!!!! The team is not motivated at all.Look at the chelsea team big salaries my bro comes big expectations.One defeat to a big team is okay but 2 defeats-Hull, Fulham and stoke plus draws to sunderland and spurs is alarming.I dare say we do not deserve 4th place.Chelsea and man u bounce back from defeats not on the field but mentally. We drag back from defeats.
    Remember the invincibles never ever beaten twice by average teams.The players are clearly not ambitious and it is cos of AW he let flamini go which means he could let any of them go if they needed a raise. Secondly AW did not buy.If you work in an office that needs staffing requirements and your boss fails to realise this but instead wants to kill you with work you will be planning to leave. I am in that situation and believe me i might be the fabregas of my team but I am sure leaving.
    Look at all the guys that have left thay are doing well.Milan is on top, Barca after a slow start note one loss only, are back joint tops.
    I appreciate your optimisim but like I said there is no where in the world where there are more arsenal fans than nigeria.We have over 50 million arsenal fans and Arsenal I dare say comes before our country’s matches cos we still love Kanu and what he did there and are coyed by their beautiful football which i believe chelsea is playing and are on top.So AW cant just toy with fans emotions in the way he is doing at the moment.
    My advice: wait till next season again!!!!

  12. @ scope knight

    Good points u have made though i will disagree with a few.
    I think there is no reason to blame Almunia. Though he is not a great motivator, he has done his job quite well.U just have to look back at the key saves he has made,recently when 1-0 down to everton and a couple against fenerbache and against spurs he made mistake for the second goal but for other 3 goals no keeper in the world couldnt have saved. and even cech, van der saar have off days.
    other than the almunia thing,i agree to everything u have said.

  13. Even people said “you dont win anything with kids” to fergie during 94-95 but they won the league. But with Fergie, it is different – he picks players for their characters as much as their football. U see roy keane,rooney scholes giggs neville – they are intimidated by nothing.
    I am disappointed to say we didnt have one such player in arsenal for the past 2 seasons other than Flamini.

  14. come on…gooners…i know most of you bought the tshirt “wenger knows!”….does it worth it? come on that guy is going crazy, he is becoming slave of his ideologies restriting himself to not listen to other comments….he is becoming such a horrible supporter..not manager; i appologize for that but i have to use it, as he is acting like us…he talks and talks and blames and appriciates but he can’t do nothing extra to sort out the solution…..what do you call this?

    i agree with the above post 100%, and when some one is wrong then tell him he is doing wrng if he is not listning………????

    the boss said that you will see us at the end of the season, guys are we watching another league….i mean not thye one arsene is talking about?….is there any sign that will make us think about the team winning title at the end….wake up…gooners wake up!!!

  15. Another nightmare result, but i saw the line up and saw it coming to be honest. Walcott hasnt completed 90 mins yet, why?!!??! Nasri – When will Wenger play him outside London?!?! A midfield 4 of Denilson, Song, Cesc and Diaby is not good enough to win trophies, its as simple as that. Van Persie was just frustrated and deserved the red card.

    It has to be said that this weekend, the boys need our support more than ever before – confidence must be so low right now. Personally i think Utd will blow us away. Its goin to be difficult with our frail defence, tired, idealess midfield. Up front, we have limited options. I hope he plays Vela (have no idea why he hasnt played more anyway) Bendtner will need a big game as well if we are gonna get anything out of it.

    Its looking like another 4th place scrap and if Villa win tonight, we go 5th going into saturdays game. Uts’s confidence is high, ours is low.

    The price for not buying experience quality to replace gilberto and flamini is truely being paid. Im scared for this month. The games frighten me to be honest – i just dont think the team has the bottle or the steel to get stuck in and work for it.

    Prove me wrong boys…

  16. First up, a few points that need making clear.

    If there was actually no money to spend this summer, then Arsene Wenger is in cahoots with the board about the myth that there was. That makes him as guilty as any director for misleading the supporters.

    Arsene Wenger attends board meetings as a matter of course, even though he is not an appointed director. He is in full possession of the facts regarding the club’s real financial position.

    Obviously if there was money to spend and the manager has willingly chosen not to strengthen, then it is an outrage that fans are being asked to pay the prices for admission being asked.

    The problem with the team is that the manager pumps them up mentally to believe they are capable of greatness. When they are defeated by championship plodders, there is no fallback, only collapse. This group of players will only recover when bolstered by a number of new signings. Their confidence and self belief is shot. It’ll get worse before it gets better.

    Long term, what needs to be realised is this. Some of the very young players will bring more to the team than their older colleagues. Time to start playing – albeit selectively and not all at the same time – Ramsey, Vela, Wilshere and Djourou. Let’s see what these players are made of. If they are better than the current bunch, then start playing them more regularly. Now is the season to experiment in the Premier League. The team won’t challenge for the title, and the more established players have little motivation in a battle for fourth place. Younger players will. We’ve more chance of making the top four by playing motivated footballers.

    As for the manager, he has got it badly wrong and needs to be honest about his errors – either that or apologise for lying and admit he had no money to spend. Looking at the wage bill, my guess is that money is there, but he has chosen to use it by rewarding some average players with some big pay packets. Sell those that obviously aren’t worth even £20k a week that are obviously being paid so much more.

    He needs to buy in January to begin the rebuild. Let’s try and win the FA Cup with our strongest available side and see if the side can ride their luck in Europe. He needs to stop saying he believes in this group of players or that it’s the best he’s ever worked with. It’s emperor’s new clothes stuff, it doesn’t wash anymore and it makes himself and the club look stupid. By all means believe in individual players, but not the group. It’s surely the worst he has ever had at the club.

    There are three ways this can go. Either complete decline – which will lead to Wenger’s dismissal. Continued inconsistency with brilliance mixed with performances like those seen at Fulham and Stoke. In which case we simply bump along until 2011 hanging onto a top four spot as tickets become easier to get hold of for Arsenal matches and general sale signs go up frequently. Or Wenger admits his folly and abandons the experiment whereby major players are not bought if they are over the age of 23.

    Has the manager got the stomach for a fight? He’s 59 now. It will take him at least until the 2010-2011 season to put together a good enough squad to challenge for the title again.

    But there are more fundamental problems which indicate the prognosis is bleak. Wenger has enjoyed too much power for too long. And that has corrupted his judgment. Even if the club is struggling financially, that doesn’t excuse some ridiculous starting selections or bad substitutions. Last season’s challenge masked the fact that things have been allowed to slip – defensive solidity, team spirit, tactical know how. High wages paid to over-rated and arrogant players – few of whom could pass the ‘show us your medals’ test – have created a rotten culture at the club. Arrogance and complacency – in the manager and as a consequence in his players.

    Both the backroom staff and the board would not say boo to a goose where Wenger’s concerned and that isn’t a good situation. The idea that Wenger is playing a part in the decision to appoint a CEO means the employee is effectively choosing his own boss.

    What Saturday told us is simply this. Arsenal Football Club no longer have any bollocks. And that is very sad. It is also not a situation that can be tolerated for any length of time. If the board won’t let the manager know that, the fans soon will.

  17. It is quite simple – what we should all do is turn up at the game against Fenerbahce and support the team as much as we would if we were in the middle of the Unbeaten Season.

    That is what support means, and for anyone who thinks it is clever or good to start moaning at the team, or booing if things don’t go well on Wednesday night, then the one thing that person is not, is an Arsenal fan.

    Maybe its the fact that I started supporting Arsenal in 1956 when Tottenham were not a fantasy outfit but were actually top of the league and playing much the better football. I had to live with years of no championships and no cups. Later there were the long boring years of Mersey domination and I had to put up with that.

    But I still supported the team, whoever the manager put out.

    We have no absolute right to win things. Of course different decisions could have meant different results, and we are living through one of those rare spells where the Lord Wenger looks like he is getting it wrong.

    But reading some of the blogs it looks to me as if the writers have forgotten that our manager was sacked by Monaco for not being consistent enough, just as they are forgetting those 3 years when we came second to Manchester Bankrupt year on year and there looked to be no way through.

    Wenger is a genius, but he does not deliver the championship year after year. If that is what you want, go to Scotland and support Celtic, and then when they slip for a while, move across to Rangers.

    For Arsenal fans this is a frustrating and tough time – losing to Stoke, Fulham and Hull, but there is only one response for us, and that is to support the team even more. To be there on Wednesday and again on Saturday, and to keep on and on supporting the club, knowing that it will come right.

    As I have said so often, if you were not at the match before the start of the 49 unbeaten run, you don’t know what depression about Arsenal is all about. It was awful. The feeling for that first game of the 49 – the home victory against Southampton – was so bad that on the walk up to Highbury from Finsbury Park you could buy best seat tickets from the touts for £20 – and even then they couldn’t sell them.

    Of course the players have a duty to us, because we pay their wages. But because we have chosen to give our lifetime support to Arsenal, we have a duty to the club, and that is to be there, and to give the players that the manager chooses to send out, our total and unconditional support.

    That is what it means to be part of Arsenal. Unconditional support. Nothing less.

  18. I agree with most of your points Spanish, but I take issue with your point about understanding why he didn’y buy a DM. It was naive in the utmost to expect Song or Denilson to suddenly become top class DMs overnight. Fair play, either could be expected to fill in in times of injury or suspension of a first choice player. Wenger had enough time to get a replacement for Flamini in, but he failed to do so. The tactical and selection problems are a sign of panic. The reports of dressing room disagreements following the Spurs game (although taken with a pinch of salt) point to a team without confidence and coherence. All this bollocks about togetherness and mental strength can be ignored under the weight of overwhelming evidence of the contrary. We’re in trouble, pure and simple. We have a first team that contains 4 or 5 players that simply aren’t good enuogh to win the league. We have a squad that doesn’t contain enough quality, experienced players and we now have a manager who seems to have lost the assurance that he once had. We need a steady result in the CL this week, because it’s now an even more vital game against Man Utd on Saturday. If we take a tonking again, we’ll be easy meat for all and sundry. Birmingham etc last season showed our team does not contain the type of characters you’d want in the trenched with you. Any setback seems to knock our confidence for the next 3 or 4 games. There are no leaders on the pitch or in the dressing room, no-one to bang the wall and instill a bit of backbone. We have a team of wimps I’m afraid. I think we all know that we’re not good enough to challenge for the title. What we need to worry about is whether we’ve got what it takes to scrape into the top 4. If we don’t the financial consequences could be catastrophic, not withstanding the fact that our best players (notably Fagregas) will start to leave. The stakes are high indeed.

  19. guys come on! No matter what happens I know we’re all gunners through and through, so although we’ve got the right to moan cos that was definitely a shitty performance, all we can do right now is offer our support to the guys cos trust me, I know they know today wasn’t the performance needed from them, but the solution to our problems is definitely not for Wenger to leave. That’ll just be catastrophic. All we can do is hope that we get out of this rot as soon as possible. Gunner for life, and I’m sure you all feel the same!

  20. let the devine intervene please???/

    come on in this way …we are sinking to let the devil intevine…don’t you think that???

  21. @Let the Divine Intervene Please: too right mate. I’m happy to moan and groan on the blog about how frustrated we all feel at the moment, but true supporters will always turn up and support the team. I first went to Highbury in 1973 (aged 8) and we were crap then. After a brief period of cup success in the late 70’s we were crap for another 6 years before George Graham came and rescued us. It’s not that long ago we were distinctly mediocre under Bruce Rioch either. So let’s get it all in a bit of context. The frustrating thing is that we all knew what needed to be done in the close season to improve the team, but the manager (having acknowledged what needed to be done) then failed to do anything. It would be easier to take if the problems weren’t all self-inflicted. Yes, by all means slag the buggers off when they deserve it, but be there on match day come rain or shine.

  22. I’ve had enough with the Stoke game.

    I’m looking to Gallas next week. If there’s ever a time for him to step up and start to justify the armband that time is now. Stand tall lads. Support the Arsenal.

  23. @ fatboy,
    U talk of the 1970 s and stuff.Then we were at highbury and were not expected to be title contenders if not title winners.
    Now we are considered a big club, having moved to emirates and having won 3 titles we are expected be genuine title contenders every season.
    The thing is Wenger has ,as Gurinder rightly said, enjoyed too much power. After 3 years of no silverware,there were hardly a gooner calling for wenger’s head. we believd from last season’s performance that we will be better this season but the manager has failed us miserably due to his ARROGANCE.
    you have to show some kind of gesture to make the arsenal board to know things are not well.
    If as everytime, 60,400 fans turn up at the emirates and we win a couple of games brilliantly and then again lose to hull,fulham,stoke, there is no point. I sincerely hope the arsenal board gets tough and the fans get tough, there is a need to show that WE CANT BE TAKEN FOR GRANTED.
    I mean, if we play with heart and lose, we feel for the team . if the players play like they dont give a shit about the results, we need to respond mate…

  24. At least you’re positive, unlike some of the other blogs who keep on whinging. On saturday, had we played Eboue at right midfield, and Walcott came on after 70 minutes we could have won. Also Toure should not have played that match, Djorou was the best option, because he’s a natural attacker of the high ball.
    Did any one notice how our midfield failed to create any clear cut chances? This shows one thing, Cesc is no longer interested, and whatever you may say, I have this distinct feeling that he will leave in the Summer. I told you so with Flamini, and i’m telling you so right now with Cesc.
    So, for me now, Denilson should be given all the game time he needs, because he will be the continuity come next season.

  25. And members should also realise that our problems this season have not been in DM, but rather in defence. May be Wenger’s decission to let Senderos go to Milan was ill advised.

  26. we also have vela up front and i reckon he will live up to the hype and I’d also like to see ramsey instead of denilson as the welshman had a cracking 2 games for the welsh u-21’s and denilson in all the chances he’s had still haven’t won me over.

  27. @ JohnW

    Is anyone thinking Cesc will be staying with Arsenal ? Come on, why should he ?! Hasnt he had enough ?!!
    Fairplay to cesc, he isnt after money.. But as the season has gone so far and looks to unfold, he will be having no reason whatsoever to stay at the club. He gave it a try,even though it was not working as he was grateful to the club for making him the player he is. But it has become like thierry henry’s situation now, he cant see his future with arsenal. Poor boy, he was excited thinking the likes of compatriot Xabi alonso will be playing alongwith him. U dont need rocket science to tell he will be going back home to spain.
    And senderos was never better than toure and gallas, he would have brilliantly against the weaker teams and screw up gloriously in big matches against the likes of chelsea,liverpool …
    Since 3 seasons wenger has been Overestimating the central defence with the likes of cygan,senderos,aging campbell,etc and he though admitted to it last season, has never learnt from it.

  28. @Let the Divine Intervene Please///: I love it. I wish I could claim to have supported Arsenal my whole life like that. I have only supported Arsenal since I was about 13 or 14 when Thierry was turning it on – I am 21 now. I have never seen them play live at either Highbury or the Emirates. I have never been depressed for too long about Arsenal because they still find a way to play beautiful football despite the lack of consistency at times. Despite the fact that I have not experienced a lot of these “lifelong” things I still feel I am an Arsenal supporter for life just like you have said. Arsenal supporters around the globe need to realise that we support Arsenal for a reason. We have no God-given right to win. No matter what happens – we must be there for our team.
    “That is what it means to be part of Arsenal. Unconditional support. Nothing less.”
    You said it!!!

  29. I fear that during the tranfer window the manager will not buy any new players becuase he feels thet he does not need any and as a result we will not win anthing this sesason either. If that happens then he should be sacked. Five seasons of misery is more than enough for anyone to take.

  30. “If anything has to go wrong,it will go at the time you need it the most”I admit that statement more so after what we have gone through.on sartunday,everybody including spanish fly had predicted a big win for our team,what happened?????????????
    And by the way cant our Wenger see we cannot afford to go without a cup this season? and i support Ade that champions do not play the game we are playing,so what?———-lets hope that we will wake up

  31. Wenger has four problem areas, so he needs to make four moves. His problem areas are goalkeeper, centreback, defensive midfielder and captain.

    1. Drop Almunia, who can’t even dominate his six-yard box, let alone his penalty area.

    Use Fabianski against Fenerbahce and let the Pole show us he’s a goalkeeper. All summer I thought Almunia would lose his place by Xmas. As Jens Lehmann said, How many big games has he won for Arsenal?

    2. He needs a big , nasty centreback who is six foot four like Vidic. He uses raiding fullbacks but lacks an anchorman to protect his back four. He should buy two big, tough Belgians. There are dozens of them. Just buy a big Belgian and put the No5 on his back. Then put another one at No.6 in the Alonso role.

    3.Defensive midfielder.

    He lost Flamini and Gilberto after selling Diarra, so that was just Edu &Vieira revisited. Wenger is consistent, give him that. Denude midfield, then wonder why your results are patchy, why you concede too many goals.

    In the summer of 2007 he made a bold and brilliant move when he replaced the Invisible Wall with the one-man whirlwind. A year later he lost both and did not replace either. If he wanted another Flamini, he should have signed Di Rossi from Roma. If he wanted another Gilberto, he should have signed Kompany.

    Ten games into the Premier League season, the teams that have reliable anchormen are at the top. Man United have Carrick back, and Hargreaves in reserve, plus the energetic, pro-active Anderson, who is more like a left-footed Flamini. Liverpool have Mascherano and Xabi Alonso and Lucas. And Chelsea have replaced Makelele with Mikel, a big strong boy with a good touch. Aston Villa have Gareth Barry, who is similar to Alonso

    Denilson, bless him, is a mini-Fabregas. But he can’t do what Fabregas does, he can’t do what Flamini did, and he’s too small and too young to do what Gilberto did.

    4. Cesc Fabregas will walk in the summer if Arsenal go on like this.

    Spain has become a proper team which has improved as Arsenal have declined, so Fabregas is now playing in the best team Spain has had for 50 years, and the worst team Arsenal have had for four years.

    If you’ve played in a balanced, powerful team, you do not want to play in a flawed team where the keeper is a joke, the goalscorer runs offside all the time, and your Keystone Cops defence panics every time there is a high ball into the box

    When Fabregas plays for Spain he knows that David Villa and Fernando Torres can score at any time. They are hot and can grab every kind of goal and score from half-chances ; van Persie and Adebayor are flaky and unreliable When did Villa or Torres miss the chances that Adebayor wastes? Would they petulantly barge the keeper as van Persie did at Stoke?

    David Villa’s runs in Spain’s recent game against Belgium were quite amazing. And Belgium are not mugs. They are improving rapidly. Villa’s movement and finishing are fabulous. What a player ! And he wanted to join Arsenal last summer. Instead, Wenger bought a kid from Marseilles and a kid from Cardiff.

    For Spain, Fabregas has the crafty, strategic Senna anchoring midfield, the tough Puyol at the back, Xavi, who can run and link all day, and the magnificent Casillas in goal. Spain is a real team that has won something. This Arsenal is an unbalanced team which has won nothing.

    Fabregas is a steely player, very determined as well as very skilful. He is the most popular player and should be captain. He can rally the team and lift the crowd.

    5. The best way to improve a team without buying new players is to tighten them up with a new training regime. Give them a new input from somebody. Therefore Pat Rice should be replaced by Martin Keown. It would be ridiculous for Keown to join Tony Adams at Portsmouth. Those two have never got on well because they are different animals.

    Unfortunately, Wenger is a bit weird about Keown’s involvement in the Champions League run to Paris. From what Flamini and Toure said, his advice helped them. Arsenal kept clean sheets and got to the European Cup Final for the first time and lost 2-1 to Barcelona with 10 men.

    But I gather that Wenger does not like to hear any mention of Keown’s contribution. It’s a secret we’re not supposed to know. Why would he be weird about that? Because he’s the smallest big man in world football? Because he’s a radical cleric, an ayatollah of attacking football who refuses to bother with such dull matters as basic defending? Is it : I am the way, the truth and the light, I am the true messiah, thou shalt worship no other god but me ?

    Well, the radical cleric’s doctrine has failed. Packing the team with French and African kids has failed. That is what he did in his last days at Monaco, and it got him the sack. He got rid of all their experienced players and eventually the president said : Enough !

    Basically, all managers lose the plot and Wenger had a bad summer. If you have a bad summer, you have a bad season. If your squad stays about the same, it’s going backwards.

    However, the long-term slide is more worrying.

    Since 2004, Arsenal has been a declining team, and this month they could get hammered by Manchester United and humiliated by Chelsea. Their title challenge is over already and anxious Gooners no longer want to hear a once-great manager say, “I believe in this group of players.” The fans don’t believe in this group of players. They really don’t believe in this group of players. Many of them would like to keep Sagna, Clichy and Fabregas and replace the rest of the team.

    If he has any sense in this situation, Wenger would now concentrate on the FA Cup while carefully accumulating more points than Aston Villa’s well-organised journeymen.

    I reckon Arsenal will finish fourth.

    But if Aston Villa are fourth, I’m going to say : He has 26 scouts but he couldn’t discover Ashley Young, who was playing for Watford on the other side of a hedge at London Colney.

  32. First thing I will say is that I dont believe in all this “they dont care about the club” & “paid too much” mentality from some of our fans. They do care. Cesc was clearly down & Clichy was visibly hurt. Just because they walk down the tunnel with their heads down doesnt mean they dont give a sh*t. Like all of us at work, they need a character, a leader, to lift them & remind them that they are very good footballers & to get back to doing what they do best.

    If we were to get 1 guy in there who in the midle of the game could get them going when heads were down, we would be right up there. Yes we need a DM, I agree that Almunia is not good enough, but 1 leader would lift this current lot so much. Cesc is carrying the whole team on his shoulders & the burden is too much. If he was at UTD or Chelsea he would be in the middle of a 2/3 week break right now. The guy couldnt even pass the ball 5 yards on Sat, he’s shattered.

    It is for this reason I still believe not paying that extra £2m for Alonso will cost us dearly. He’s an experienced pro who would have taken some of that burden from Cesc as well as seemingly a nice person to have at the club. I feel for Denilson as he’s trying his best but is not a Flamini type player. I still cant believe that Wenger thought we can go a whole season without replacing Flamini, Gilberto & Diarra. Too much pressure on a young squad.

    What RVP did was stupid but shows the mentality at the club. They are frustrated. We dont need whole sale changes but we do need a few tweaks here & there. I hope Eduardo’s return will lift them but even getting Beckham on loan, just as a squad player, would have given all the players a boost.

    We need a fresh mentality Arsene or UTD will take us apart on Sat. I dread to think what will happen if we concede first…..

  33. @Rilub,
    Well said.Well said. I am not a fan that would hide behind the fact that we have a now useless senile manager and a weak weak squad. I think I have the right to complain.If wenger was in newcastle or any other traditional british owned club will he still be power.
    Tony adams was the defence boss b4 he became manager of pompey, why why was he never a backroom staff at arsenal.
    I was suggesting that fans boycott the games and SF said it is absurd.Funny but it might work cos AW looks at the crowd before he starts a match and i am sure it will get to him.
    We all have a right to get angry.I spend at least 200 pounds on arsenal stuff every season so i believe i pay thos kids wages and as such they should leave up to thier responsibilities.What nonsense!!!!!!!!!

  34. With all the talk of Arsenal not having a defensive midfielder or big lumbering centre backs or not having a strong mentality has no-one else noticed that Arsenal were actually kicked off the pitch by Stoke on Saturday. Three players had to be taken off by the end of the game which is extreme for any match. Shawcross hacked Adebayor down from behind (isn’t that a red card?) when the ball was out of play (isn’t that a red card too?), then just got up and sauntered with a smug look on his face.

    The thing is that I absolutely know that if it was any of Adebayor’s Big 4 counterparts Rooney, Torres or Anelka that were tackled like that, the Stoke player would have been sent off straight away, there would have been uproar in the commentary box, the press and MOTD afterwards and interviews with Ferguson/Benitez (can’t see Big Phil doing it to be honest) demanding the ref’s give more protection to their superstars and the FA would extend Shawcross’s ban. However on Saturday nothing was said Shawcross’s tackle or Delap’s maiming of Walcott either in the printed press or on MOTD. Nothing zilch nada! Just the usual cliché’s about Arsenal being weak and not able to handle the physical side of the game.

    This seems to be a recurring theme in the football community’s opinions on Arsenal. Weak and injury prone. For example Stoke’s Abdoulaye Faye boasted prior to the game that they would play physically against Arsenal as they weren’t hard enough unlike Chelsea, Liverpool and ManU. Here’s the thing though Abdoulaye and Lawrenson – if you go flying with tackles to players ankles and heels all the time even Chelsea’s Iron Men would start going off under that kind of “typical British game”. However out of the Big 4 only Arsenal seem to be getting this treatment on a regular basis. Their constant injury problems seem to be put down by Pete Gill and various mailbox contributors to be down to poor medical staff, Wenger only buying injury prone or Arsenal just being foreign and not British enough for the premiership. What’s obviously the problem is that Arsenal are being singled out by lower table teams like Stoke, Bolton and last year Birmingham because they believe that kicking them out of the game gets results.

    So why Arsenal and not ManU? Simple – the referees of course. While no seems to be allowed touch any of Sirs superstars without getting a card, teams can regularly hack Arsenal down with impunity.

    I can only put this down to the English referees having an innate sense of bias against Arsenal as they see them as bunch of foreigners who are ruining our game unlike the other Big Three who are bravely flying the flag with about eight Englishmen in their squads between them.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Stoke wouldn’t have beaten Arsenal without hacking them down as they would. Arsenal couldn’t handle Delaps throws and didn’t create any proper attack on goal. But before everyone gets carried revelling in Arsenals misfortunes they should recognise that the team is getting kicked out of the game and the referees are complicit in this.

    You know this is an open secret in the football fraternity

  35. @ Gunnercesc4: look up your history son, we’ve been a big club since the 1930’s and we’ve won a lot more than 3 titles. I understand your frustration and I share it, believe me. I just don’t think the way to show it is by boycotting the games. Arsenal have a membership of 180,000, there’s no way there’ll be any spare seats for long at the Emirates. I don’t agree that Wenger has shown arrogance, more a misplaced confidence in a young squad, and an inability to move decisively in the transfer market when necessary. It’s been suggested that he can’t handle the egos of big players- maybe this is why he only buys kids and unknowns.

    @Rilub: I agree with everything you say mate, especially the fears about Cesc getting fed up and moving on.

    @ nigelp: I think the team needs a lot more than just a tweak mate. Someone made the point on this blog a couple of days ago about how many of our players would be picked for a team made up of players from all the top 4 clubs- think about it, how many would you pick? 3 at most would have a shout, and only Cesc would probably get in. We’re weak in all areas of the pitch. I totally agree with you about Alonso, he would have bolstered the midfield and taken some of the pressure off of Cesc.

  36. Best news i’ve heard for a while is Wenger is targeting PSG GK Landreau. Although since Wenger never buys anything we need, i doubt its true. I dont watch the French league or the French National team, so does anybody know anything about this guy just in case it is true?

  37. While all the whining about a DM goes on, can anyone tell me how he would have stopped the goals that went in?, and since he is “defensive” how much responsibility does he have on our failure to create chances? We are all hurt and disappointed but that is hardly a reason not to be objective and truthfull about what caused us the loses.

    @ KURUPT and GRANT; That’s the spirit. When I have my box at the emirates I will sure invite you guys(I have to sell a kidney or something first though).

    @ Skope Knight; Not to pick on you, but I know several people who spend several times that amount, myself included, and don’t necessarily take that harsh a stance on the team. I know it is a lot of money anywhere not just Nigeria, but I am from africa too, I share your pain but that is the I will always watch and get behind my team and players no matter what. I am delighted to know that with 50 million arsenal fans in Nigeria, it means every man above the age of 14 and a quater of all women above that age are arsenal fans. Seems like I just need to find a Nigeria and I have an arsenal fan to watch a game with.

  38. Is Landreau any good? I saw an article about the rumors and the comments were claiming Mandanda would be a better choice… I dont know much about either…

  39. Great analysis there SF. I think you are dead right on Wenger’s choice of tactics. Arsenal are an attacking side, you have to play to their strengths. They have as good as an attack as any of the other big teams – it is their defense that lets them down.

  40. The title challenge is not over yet, and i honestly cannot stand those who have given up on Arsene. I would not trade him for any manager in the world – he has made errors but his decisions have in no way been helped by the inexplicable errors by some of our most consistent performers in the past – clichy’s error at spurs and the horrendous form of both Gallas and Toure, who i believe should not play together, I agree entirely with Spanish on this one. The team will rally against Fenerbache on wednesday and perform to the level that we expect of them, and more importantly, that they expect of themselves. I believe that this challenging run of fixtures will bring out the best in our team, just as the percieved ‘easy’ start to the season brought out the worst in them.

    Cheer up Guooners – and get behind our team!

  41. with 4 big games for arsenal it will be interesting to see how they go…i think if it ends badly Arsen Wenger needs to GO

  42. @ RBP – It would be amazing if Wenger threw Vela into the mix against United. I wouldn’t be against it, he seems to have a decent partnership when he plays with Bendtner. But United is a different ball game and they probably won’t find the space they did against Sheffield.

  43. @ gunning 4u I love arsenal as much as a lot of others but sometimes we have to take our rose tinted glasses off and I don’t mean any disrespect but when you have teams that started with bolton kicking us off the ball and getting results it’s open season on us from anyone outside the top 4 and it’s up to the team to pick it up and fight back but not in a stupid way like rvp did more like nasri on tripping bad boy barton (still my highlight of the season thus far) I’m glad we lost ade for a couple of games as he has been 1 of our biggest carryiers of the season as how many lazy offsides has he been caught in and not to mention people like behdner and vela who has played well in the pre season get left on the bench while he squanders chance after chance and don’t go on about how many he has this season as none of then have been spectacular just simple tap ins and he’s even missed a few of those but the player selection hasn’t been top notch by le boss. But I’m not calling for his head like some plastics who can’t remember the game under br or gg as I’m sure if ol jol was still at shite hart lane they would of had the likes of berba and keane about with a few more good players added they would of been a top 4 team. But they got greedy and didn’t realise it takes time to build a team if you dismantle everything like people are saying 4-5 players need to be replaced and lets say we get a new keeper, cb and dm in jan it won’t be till the end of the season till they gel and it could be worse than what we have. Also are any clubs still in the cl and domestic cups in their country selling there top players in jan? If we sold fab in jan we would have a revolt and ol sf would get over 200 comments for sure haha. But if we sold him at the end of the season (god forbid) everyone would say we didn’t match up to his expectations and losing the title at the very last 8 games due to sagna and dudu being out last year and being robbed of 2 dodgy refs in the cl is beyond anyones control but I’m still here yelling at my tv every arsenal game on fox and wishing it could change a thing but it doesn’t. But give me our position than that of anyone outside the top 4 and I would take what we have and still be here this weekend screaming at the telly when vela scores his hat trick and I’ll be back here telling you I told you so and Ronaldo 7 you better watch it as eboue tamed you everytime he played at rb and he’ll do it again.

  44. Reminds me of current day politics… You are all so smart! Current slogan for America is Change! Is that’s what is in order? Watch America fall if Change occurs…. Watch Arsenal fall if change occurs… It seems patience is in order and the team needs some accountibility! Bandwagoneers be calm. EPL is the most watched and most invested in league. But, don’t forget the l’histoire de Arsenal. If we finish 5th or 6th or even 7th be calm. No one else can lead the helm quite like AW. Yeah, bring in someone else then what?

  45. For everyone who thinks Arsenal’s players are not well paid. If anyone paid attention to the AGM you will have heard that we spent the 2nd highest of all the clubs in salaries… United weren’t inclued that so you’d assume a net 3rd. The salaries are not he problem, they are well paid. It’s the motivation.

  46. Guys the way i look at it is this…Teams are judged by silverwear and what they win.

    Arsenal are a great side that play nice football…But they arent winning anything. Now that all goes back to the MANAGER…Does he have what it takes to win anymore ?

    I have no doubts Arsen is great at developing young talent and getting them to play very nice football. But does he have the management skills that are required atm to WIN trophies and manage these players to have the mental toughness.

    I think that he doesnt have it. He once had it but the games changing. Either he changes or Arsenal make the big step and change coaches.

    What are your thoughts ?

  47. Also with winning comes the ability to keep and attract top line players..

    Fergie once struggled to do that cause he was not winning…Now playing for Man United is what everyone wants… Players want to WIN trophies. They want to say i have won this and that.

    Fabregas will want to win something and hell want to win alot. Why ? Cause his ability deserves it. If he thinks he is not going to get that with Arsenal, he will move one. Believe me

  48. @ Ronaldo7 – I agree with your comments about winning to keep and attract players, definitely. But A also agree with Gunnerblog who said that progress is more important than rewards. On his blog he said:

    “People complain about going several years without winning a trophy. I won’t. My primary interest is not prizes, but progress. As long as your football club is on an upwards trajectory, it is hard to complain. Last season represented real progress. After a couple of years competing for a Champions League spot in our own mini-league (with the likes of Spurs and Liverpool), we were suddenly back in the title race proper.”

    The problem is that we have gone backwards this year in our progress. I don’t think it has to do with not winning, otherwise how would you explain the progress made over the past three years? But I admit there is problems. Sacking Wenger is not the solution, him fixing his little errors is.

  49. @ Ronaldo7 – Also, there is also the fact that Arsenal are just not the same type of club that United are. The two clubs have a different mentality and if Arsenal become like United (which is essentially what you are suggesting) then we lose our identity. I agree with Wenger that trophies can be won playing attacking football – look at Manchester United last season and Chelsea this time round in particular – it’s just that we have flaws defensively. I don’t think that has anything to do with not having a winning mentality.

  50. @Spanish Fry – I agree with the comments about attacking football. Id also like to add United had the best defence in the league last season…

    In saying all this i think arsen has maybe 2 season left to prove he bring “progress”. The fact is he is losing players. He is having trouble attracting players. In the next summer transfer market he needs to go out hard for defensive based players. Players that can command the field with there aggresion. Vidic and Flamini type.

    Hell always coach teams to play attacking football. So arsenal will never lose that. They just need to shop for the right players.

    Anyways. Good luck to arsenal this weekend. You will need it.

  51. on another note i really dont want arsenal to slip away…why ?

    because i have grown up to love the united vs arsenal battles. I LOVE them.

  52. @ Ronaldo7 – Remember when Arsenal were on the back foot going into the United game at Old Trafford two seasons ago? Adebayor stepped up and we won 1-0. Maybe Bendtner or Vela will do the same 😀

  53. the post that mentioned the Arse wage bill is correct.Talk of buying in 3 top level players is panic talk,this would add at least £250k to the wage bill,work out what that is over 4 yrs contracts.Even Chelski have sacked all these scouts to get the club wage bill down,and according to the media Scolari has been told he must sell before he can buy.Check out the Berbatov deal where Man Us surplus paid for the transfer fee but Berbatovs wages were effectively paid for by the wages that would have went to Pique,Silvestre and that other guy they chopped whose name I cant remember.So dont f**king panic or you could be in a worse situation 3-4 yrs down the line.To keep the wage bill down you will need to shift some of the preseht squad to bring new blood in.This is where your problems might start,with Wengers current crop you might have a few Wiltord situations where you cant shift them because their wages are too high and you end up having to pay some of their wages even when their gone ie paying somebody to take them off your hands.

  54. Hi all, I guess everyone’s hurting from this deafeat. I feel what Arsene should do is buy quality experienced players in January. I am not undermining the likes of Denilson, Song or Diaby but it so obvious that a quality player that complements Cesc is needed. The impact of losing Helb is starting to show. Flamini was a big loss but Helb is even bigger. Without Helb, Fabregas looks pretty ordinary dosen’t he. Flake me all you want about Helb, but whenever he put on the shirt he gave 100% on the pitch running, tracking back and despite all the critics of his lack of goals he gave his all. His link up play was second to none. I love Cesc but this partnership with Denilson is just a laugh. Arsenal’s midfield is so slow that it takes Clichy and Sagna to always initiate fast movements. Cesc needs fast partners who will run so he could thread those 1-2 ala the Viera, Henry era and the only player that try to do that is Walcott and our two wingbacks. Its a pity our squad is now made up of a captain who is not leadership material, a keeper that is not commanding in his six yard box, a striker that gets so many offside that he should try playing american football. I am not against the kids, its simple as this, kids or not quality shows if your a good footballer, experience counts for nothing if none have a winning mentality. Look at Villa, Young and Agba, they are kids, but they have enough bottle to fight for their team, keep their heads down. Arsenal is in danger of becoming a complacent team and with the attitude shown by Song during the Spurs game we are definitely a step closer. I hope these current Arsenal players get it, if they want to wear the shirt wear it with pride and play with dignity for Arsenal, for now they don’t have the right to revel in the history that was made by Viera, Adams, Henry, Pires, Freddie and all those before them. I wouldn’t mind if Arsenal finished sixth but I am appalled if some of these players act like they are champions when the fact is they are nothing. Come on Arsene, Cesc is hurting, January is 2 months away don’t lose him to the Madrids and Barcelonas. Buy somebody he wants to play with. Come on Arsenal!

  55. Its football… Anything can happen. I am hoping Vela gets a shot and I think he will… The kid is an incredible talent and has already played against big teams in Spain. Now is the perfect chance to play him. I am praying for a good result but you have to say United are the favorites… Berbatov scares me more then anyone…

  56. A couple of things; The trade off for not winning any trophy in 4 years is a brand spankin’ new stadium and talent that everyone is salivating for. Man U went 3 or 4 without anything to show for it.

    Chelsea has not won a cup of note for how many years with their millionaires?! Lets put things in perspective. The future of arsenal has been secured without dropping out of the big 4.

    @SF: with New Castle and spuds wins which effectively left us pretty much where we were pre-stoke in terms of how far are we from the top point-wise and still in the top 4, aren’t you getting the feeling that with all we have managed to screw up, the Gods must be smiling at us? I mean we have blown 13 points so far and still we are just 6 points adrift, which is very manageable!

    The timing of Adebayor’s injury and RVP’s suspension has come a bit pre-mature. It should have waited for Eduardo to be back. I can’t help get the feeling that our season fell apart on Eduardo’s injury, he could be the guy to win us the premiership this season. If used properly, he will have 30+ goals this season.

    in the spurs game, at about 10 min, 36/38 second, Denilson made a delightful lob/pass on first touch that I have never seen anyone make. He did it again within the last 10 mins. but the second time it was shorter than the first one, so the first one was not a fluke. I saw fabregas do it for Spain in the euros to set up a goal but the quality was not like Denilson’s. I just wonder why people bash Denilson that much. He is the most skillfull central MF we have, he is outpassing Cesc game in, game out in both quantity and success rate. Cesc leaves Arsenal next season I would be heartbrocken, but I wouldn’t be worried at all.

  57. No one doubts Denilson as a player… Just as a parter for Cesc… The argument is that a more defensive minded MF needs to play alongside him… A marcos Senna/ Claude Makalele type…

  58. @ TayGoon THANKS MATE THAT would be MY ULTIMATE DREAM come true just watchin MY ARSENAL play while sittin in the STAND WOW just thinkin bout that gave me goose bumps WOW as I said before I will always be an ARSENAL fan even if they finish last but KNOCK ON WOOD hope that never happens. But yeah just supportin and bein part of the club its just a feelin A cant explain put it this way I would give up A lot of things anyday for MY ARSENAL. I know its hard boys seein how we going but guys WE are the best club in the WORLD and we will get through this OUR club needs us more than ever, just think bout how gr8 our club is and think bout some of the gr8 moments and gr8 times our club have given US and u will forget bout all the downs and smile. SO HANG IN THERE PPL IT WILL COME.

  59. please people can someone tell Mr Wenger to stop being stubborn.we are fedup, ohh my god.rite now i have developed highblood pressure,soon so many arsenal fans goner die because of stress and high B/P.

    at least if Wenger could leave us in peace,i think he is losing it to old age

    I dont want to talk too much because my mouth is full of vulgar.pliz get us the special one,Mr Mourinho,surely he will transform Arsenal

  60. SF – I normally agree with your observations but in this case I disagree. I believe Gunning4u points about the injuries picked-up at Stoke proves Wenger’s concerns for both Nasri and Walcott. A coach, I’ld almost say in any sport, who has a player like Walcott is going to pull him off if you have a substantial lead towards the end of the game because in the last few minutes of any game of any sport can be the most dangerous for players, especially, if the opposing side has some scrape in them.

    What I believe we miss most from Flamini’s absence is his marshaling the troops spirit on the field and giving directions or marching orders to the troop. Sadly, Gallas is just not that kind of leader.

    Which thing get to the point about a DM with a presence on the pitch. A trade-off has to be made and Wenger’s choose to have CB’s come up in support the attacking mid-field. Thus we have two maestros pulling the strings in mid-field (Denilson & Frabregas). This was done to combat last year’s problem of defenses keying in on Cesc and with a Hleb unwilling to shoot from distance, our passing game got closed down.

    The big problem I see is that the center of our defense is very weak which means both Cesc and Denilson are having to track back to be on defense. I thought they both did an amazing job in the Tottenham game playing defense just after they scored the first goal. I believe Flamini masked the vulnerabilities that is Gallas.

  61. @ sf-in response to the comment you left about my comment, i know that it’ll be a different ball game against Man U, it always will be against one of the top 3 clubs, but there are some players who seem to thrive in these big time situations, hopefully Vela will be one of them.It will be his chance to shine, and for all of those shouting for Vela to be given his shot, this could be it…

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