5 things Wenger can do to instantly improve Arsenal

In the aftermath of our 1-0 defeat to Manchester United Pete Triplow from The Beautiful Groan (a hugely underrated and relatively unknown Arsenal blog) made a very astute observation:

“It is a popular myth that you have to be perfect to win the league. You constantly hear how ‘Arsenal can’t win the league without a keeper’, ‘United can’t win the league without Rooney firing’, etc. But that is complete nonsense – no team is even close to perfect at the moment and whoever papers over their deficiencies most effectively will lift the trophy in May.”

I absolutely agree that papering over our deficiencies and the ability to get the most out of what have rather than bitching about what we don’t have is a huge part of our title challenge.

In saying that as well as we are doing this season — and 2nd in the league at this point and still a part of all four competitions is a great outcome — I feel, just in the past month or so, that we are not quite getting the most out of our squad.

Here’s five things Arsenal Wenger could do to change that.

Simplify Alex Song’s role

Alex Song’s position in the Arsenal team has been a hot topic of conversation for Arsenal fans this season. There is no doubt that he is pushing forward more often this season, undoubtedly buoyed by a few early-season goals and the endorsement of a manager who is attempting to play a flexible system that sees Song and (usually) Jack Wilshere take turns to play the holding midfield role. But is it for the good of the team?

The sight of Song chasing back has been seen far too often this season

Arseblogger wrote an excellent piece about the contrast between Song’s passing in the attacking third and the defensive third — the conclusion being that he is much less successful going forward — but for me that is not the real problem. Players moving into the final third are always going to give the ball away more because the passing becomes riskier. For me the problem is that Song’s role has become overcomplicated and, without sounding overly harsh, I’m not sure he has a footballing brain capable of coping with it.

Song’s defense-first mentality and the simplicity of his role — to protect the back two in a positional sense and distribute the ball to more talented player as quickly as possible — appears to have been eroded. He is trying to do too much, trying to add too many dimensions to his game and just at the minute, it is hurting us. He is now the player who has committed the second most fouls in the Premier League after Kevin Davies and has eight yellow cards, most of them professional fouls committed out of desperation whilst chasing back, rather than a result of a desire to enforce himself physically in the middle of the pitch.

Song’s quality as a player is unquestionable but at the moment his role is too complicated. The sooner Wenger instructs him to get back to basics the more secure our team will become.

Don’t changing the formation to accommodate Robin van Persie

Rather than providing a natural lift to the team the return of Robin van Persie from injury has complicated matters for this team. The use of 4-3-3, the formation that naturally suits this group of players, has been thrown into doubt due to Wenger’s desire to accommodate both van Persie and Chamakh in the same team.

For me the solution is clear: our system should not be changed to accommodate van Persie. Rotate the players if you want — and really, given Chamakh’s physically-demanding start to the season this is a necessity – but playing them together at this crucial time of the season, when van Persie is still to find form and 4-3-3 is working well, is silly.

Wenger admitted that he is excited at the prospect of teaming van Persie up with Chamakh but the time is not right. Indeed, for this season, it may never be.

Communicate with the goalkeepers

It would be unfair to Wenger to suggest that this is not happening already but at this vital moment — where the baton of first-choice could be handed from Lukasz Fabianski to Wojciech Szczesny while Manuel Almunia sits patiently in the corner — he needs to get his communication right. The good news is that Fabianski and Szczesny are such good friends that the situation should be an easy one to handle. Wenger simply needs to sit both of them down, number them one or two and tell Almunia in no uncertain terms that his time at the club is up.

Szczesny and Fabianski are good friends

It sounds harsh but surely it is the way forward. Almunia disappointed before his ‘arm injury’, Fabianski has stepped in to solid and often spectacular effect and Szczesny’s limited performances have been genuinely impressive for such a young player. Wenger needs to make some hard decisions now, communicate them to the players, and remove any uncertainty that might still exist in their mind to get the best result for this team.

Play Kieran Gibbs at left-back

In my mind it has been clear for some time that Wenger wants Kieran Gibbs to take the place of Gael Clichy at left-back, but the Englishman’s wretched run of injuries has prevented this from happening.

The Frenchman — never the best 1-on-1 defender in the world — has regressed over the past two seasons, partially as a result of the lack of cover he is provided by Andrey Arshavin and partly because… well, I don’t know exactly. But the fact is he has made too many careless errors this season and is failing to add the required solidarity to our back four.

In contrast Gibbs has looked every bit the part in his limited opportunities this season and — a decent run of fitness prevailing — should end the season as first-choice.

Make Samir Nasri our penalty taker

Cesc Fabregas has great temperament and courage, van Persie great power and confidence but when it comes to taking penalties, surely Samir Nasri is the best of the bunch. He has taken four penalty-kicks in his time at the club — converting each of them and sending the goalkeeper the wrong way in the process — and is in the form of his career at the moment. Surely there is nobody better for Wenger to entrust with the penalty-taking duties?


Have your say on 5 simple things Wenger can do to instantly improve Arsenal by leaving a comment.



  1. I think you’re spot on about Song. This has been a major failing for the team and Wilshere is much better going forward. Song is clumsy and generally slows up the attack.

    Van Persie and Chamakh is going to be a problem, but I think that they can both be accommodated. Van Persie can replace Arshavin, who has been inconsistent.

  2. Well here’s an even better suggestion play Vermalen at LB, instead of the injury prone Gibbs or out of sorts Clichy.

    2nd we need to accomdate both v persie and chamakh its simple v persie has to play of chamkh rathar than come deep and try and create play if thats the case bendtner shld play instead of chamakh.

  3. Agreed with everything except penalty taking.Surely RVP is the best penalty taker we have and no one can take it away from him.Nasri can be a good second choice instead of Cesc

  4. Let me give you three more:

    Have the JET, Aneke and Afobe on the bench. When the team is expressing the fear factor, but these lads on. Bold move, but we need players with confidence.

  5. Pretty much agree with all that except for the penalties point. Did you see the way Van P dispatched that spot-kick in the CL? He’s done nothing but that since coming back and he did that remarkably well.

    Also, although I agree that Gibbs should be given a run in the side I think that our left sided problems almost certainly stem from Arshavin as much as Clichy. I think Gibbs may still struggle against teams like Man U and Chelsea – although I think he would cope better than the Clichy we are seeing right now – purely because of Arshavin being in front of him. That’s a problem that is hard to rectify without taking Arshavin out of the team.

  6. i agree but i dont think we can entrust gibbs just yet. he needs to prove he is both strong enough physically and fitness wise. give him the cup competitions to prove that then throw him in next season. I agree with the goalkeepers. having almunia will affect us not help us so we must sell him
    up front chamakh is currently better than rvp so until rvp proves he is better and wins his place back we can just sit tight with 3 world class strikers

  7. 1. Song – I kind of agree with you. It could have worked, but I think Song is too slow a player, and Jack is too inexperienced (right now) right now to use the new system without costing us points this season. It could become lethal over the years, but surely we should try to win the title once before trying such things?

    2. Whole-heartedly agree.

    3. I’m not sure why you’ve put this, since we have no way of knowing whether Wenger is communicating with the GKs well or not 0.o

    4.I think Wenger does see Gibbs as the long-term replacement for Clichy, but Gibbs has to be fit before he can play.

    5. van Persie is awesome at taking penalties. Can you remember any penalty by van Persie that wasn’t an almost unsavable shot? Nasri is good (although the sample of just 4 penalties is quite small), van Persie is awesome.

  8. Regarding keepers I think Fabianski should be number one and he hasn’t done anything wrong to get dropped.It will also affect his confidence which is up now after a long time.Chesney has to wait like Almunia and Fabianski to take his chance when the others are not performing well

  9. Agree on the Song point, except that I dont think hes good enough at any role to be starting every game for us. I believe he has the ability to become great, but is a year or two off. A more accomplished midfielder would choose his attacking occasions more cleverly.
    As for VP, hes good enough to play any of the front 3 positions, hes just unfit. Undoubtedly one of the most talented players we have at AFC. I firmly believe he should be taking the spot kicks, hes the best finisher at the club by a mile.
    I agree on the GK issue, we need stability in that area.
    Gibbs? He cant finish a game at the moment. Clichy was playing poorly before AA arrived, its unfair to blame the Russian for Clichys terrible decision making.

    Decent article, enjoyed the read, thanks!

  10. My views:

    1. Go for a draw if we cannot win so at least we can have 1 point and not losing all 3 points

    2. Play 4-4-2, play Chamakh and van Presie up front and kill off the game as soon as we can like Henry did in the past

    3. Stregthen the defence in Jan market by buying a few more good defenders

    4. Trade Clichy for Benzema, replace him with Gibbs

    5. play Song only as defensive midfielder, don’t push forward if possible. I want no more defeat any more

  11. Good post, a lot of Arsenal fans feel this way aswell and echo your sentiments.

    Song has been frustrating this season, and he needs to keep his discipline. His role is too add balance to the midfield, as I feel Arsenal have enough attacking options and dont need him to chip in.

    Gael Clichy has been shocking since that Birmingham game in 2008. Gibbs must play at leftback, but he is constantly injured …

    Szczesny for me should be the number 1 goalkeeper, I mean what do Arsenal have to lose?

    As for van Persie; its a question of when, not if, he gets injured

  12. Yes, you are correct about Alex Song… he needs to strengthen the center two….
    and i would have always preferred Wojciech Szczesny over Lukasz Fabianski, even though he is very young and does not have a lot of Premier League experience, but if he plays, he will gain that experience.
    Clichy has been good while attacking, but not when it comes to the defensive part.
    I also think that the center back pairing has to be of Johan Djourou and Sebastian Squillaci until Vermaelen returns. Then you have options available.
    if Gibbs ends his injury run, and start playing regular games, then he is certainly better than Clichy while defending.

  13. I highly appreciate it that you came up with such good ideas, Andy.
    I agree with most of your points, specially the case of Song is spot on.
    As for RvP, play him on the left in place of Arshavin & still maintain the 4-3-3 shape. Simple.
    Barca do it often. They play strikers on the wider positions. Messi did it in the past. Now Villa. TH14 was also used in that role.
    As for the spot kicks, RvP is quite good except the fact that his fierce shootings sometimes make you fear he may send one over the top. So, RvP & then Nasri for the penalties.

  14. @ eric – The article is called ‘5 things Wenger can do to INSTANTLY improve Arsenal’. Buying players is not possible while the transfer window is closed.

  15. Mate wishful thinking – wenger to improve arsenal – dont make me laugh. A win at stoke and all is fine again you just watch. But hey first we need to beat stoke. To be honest despite what the league table might read at the present time, I have to say we are not capable of challenging for the title. We can’t defend at the back and we won’t shoot at goal when a clear chance presents itself. There’s just this continual desire to walk the ball into the net, after you, no after you. Chelsea and Man Utd have sussed us out for quite a while now and the other teams in the League are on to us as well.

    There will come a time – maybe sooner than we think – when Wenger will either wake up and see the light and spend big or on the other hand finally tire of defending his overpaid underachievers and decide to call it a day. And I know which one my money’s on.

    So here’s a topic of debate, if we get beaten by Chelsea (again) and torn apart by Real Madrid or Barca and Arsene calls it a day at Arsenal who would Gooners want to succeed him?

  16. 1. All great goalkeeprs communicate, teach them to be like Schmedical, they need to boss their area. Dont care what language just tell the defenders what they should be doing, and if they ballsup scream at them and make sure they understand they should never do it again.
    2. Wenger you bought and developed these players and your like a father figure to them, you have to learn their are two sides to being a father the warm developmental side and the cold hard side (tough love). Its hard but you need to show more of that side.
    3. Learn to deal with the Manchester United, and Chelsea which is defensive let Arsenal move the ball around then counter attack, get a goal and then pack the defense/midfield.
    4. Reframe the Pyschology of the team for big games, our players seem to go into the games with the wrong attitude, not fully commited to winning at all costs.
    5. Teach the players and fans that this isnt a opera, if you win 5-0 it doesnt mean your the greatest team, and if you lose 1-0 it isnt the end of the world.
    6. We are so close to really great things that why its just so so frustrating.

    Fundamentally NEVER EVER let Evra or anyone dis. your team, my team again ever again. Make sure put in some bome cruching tackles and he feels he been in a game. I old enough and ugly enough to know that McLintock, Story, Adams and Viera would have dealt with him.

    Sorry thats 7

  17. Great piece of work.I enjoyed reading it. The no1 penalty taker is RVP followed by Nasri last choice Fabulous.I’m a great believer of 4-3-3 formation with either van persie or chamarck on the bench.its nt the time for experiments, we need to go with our usual formation.I dont know what has become of song.he began his season with a couple of goals and suddenly his perfomance is below evarage particularly the manure united match. Asharvin is too lazy and talkertive,at times, we need to see results on the pitch.Its time for clichy to leave arsenal, he is offering the team with nothing but dispair.if wenger doesn’t buy a defender come january then he too should leave, we want trophies,we are sick and tired of pple laughing at us.Gooner for life

  18. Yup agreed with the Song stuff too, in fact already made a comment like yours in another blog.

    I would love to have a Dutch system where everyone is capable of joining attack when needed and defending when is needed, but there is no way in hell someone like Nasri, Cesc or Wilshire will outmuscle someone like Drogba or another tank, so Song has to stay back and be responsable for tanks…we cant do this current system of allowing our defensive rock dissapearing in the final third leaving Wilshire or Cesc/Nasri to deal with counterattacks or fighting a target man for a 50/50.

    The only time I want Song going forward if its a game we have DOMINATED with like 65% possession and cant score and the opposition has shown no intention of trying to score, with that I am cool, but vs Man Utd he was further up the pitch than Wilshire for most of the game…

    Everything else you said is ok, but wouldnt say I agree 100% at all, e.g Van Persie is an amazing football and can adapt to any role, remember when he replaced Adebayor as the target man? he was rubbish for like 10 games but once he “got it” he was amazing, I just think he needs time to adapt to the new role and time to get match fit.

  19. The article is spot on about Song. I thought his job was to defend and not to forage upfield. Too often he has made the wrong passes.Only Wenger is responsible whether he plays defensively or offensively.Since the gunners defence is unreliable,let him do his defensive job.
    I believe the taking the penalty should be a collective responsibility.It should be rotated among at least three players so that gks will not be able to guess correctly which way the ball is going.
    Finally all the current problems are of Wenger’s making.He had plenty of time to get a top quality gk four years ago when vds and others were available but failed to act. And so with the other problem areas.When the need for experienced players was urgent,our esteemed manager went on to sign one kid after another .He is the only manager doing this.Other top managers sign both quality ie experienced players as well as kids.In other words the fm is putting all his eggs in one basket. He can’t see the flaws in this strategy and it’s no wonder the gunners are sinkng and continue to get beaten by the red faced.
    I am not ruling out a defeat by Chelsea.So much for his arrogance. His way of football is going to cause disater to the gunners.

  20. Very good view on all except, paternering RVP with MC. Surely at dis stage of da EPL, there is no tym for trails. Da 4-3-3 system shud be mantained. RVP shud only come in o rotatiönal basis. There by meaning dat Nasri becomes 1st penality taker.

  21. @ Erik – “Van Persie is an amazing football and can adapt to any role, remember when he replaced Adebayor as the target man? he was rubbish for like 10 games but once he “got it” he was amazing, I just think he needs time to adapt to the new role and time to get match fit.”

    I agree with this, I really do. But can we take another 5-10 games to integrate him into a new system? I don’t think so. Already people are starting to slate Chamakh but he is struggling to accommodate van Persie in the team. He might get it eventually, they both might, but the league might be gone by then. My advice: save it for next season.

  22. i actually think the main reason song is struggling is becoz diaby is injured, he receives alot of stick but is a really powerful guy thus making him better at defending than wilshere and denilson , so i think when diaby gets back , we shall, see song back to his best!!!!

  23. But Diaby will be back for exactly 20 minutes and then he will be out for 5 seasons.The fact is that we have not replaced the dynamic Vieira and Petit partnership as long as we fail to do that we will come up short.Football is about partnerships Keown/Adams,Petit/Vieira/Henry7Freddie etc rock solid partnerships and then compare with the current partnerships Vermaelen/Kos weak,Song/Diaby weak,CHamakh/Nasri better but still not good enough.

  24. Don’t agree with you all about Song at all. His natural instinct is to go forward and he does it very well, especially with Diaby injured at present. What’s more, he gives us a creative presence unlike any of our other mid-fielders; when he plays with the underrated Denilson staying back it really works. As for Clichy, he’s such a bad left back that Real Madrid want to buy him, don’t think so. The amount of cover he gets from Arshavin is shameful and he played brilliantly again Nani on Monday. Although Van Persie does seem to slow out game up it would also seem that our game has changed this season (not for the better in my belief) with a lot more longer balls seeking out Chamakh, if Van Persie can get on the end of the Chamakh lay-offs then perhaps all will be well because he is the best finisher we have.

  25. addressing the defence first why not try kosser in front of back four and have JD and Squill as defenders, until TV comes back, when we signed petit he was a defender and we converted him to midfield and well…..you know the rest, if we did this against manutd and had a solid frame in defence & midfield we could allow the full backs to push on and try counter-counter attack them like they do to us……team should ideally be chesney-sagna-JD(or new centre back) TV gibbo——–kosser-song—- jw nasri cesc chamkah(or RVP) you can play RVP instead of JW, and when we lose cesc next year, stick theo in for him, this team would have defended better against manutd and would not have let a goal in for sure. AA is a luxery type for europe, he does not posess the work ethic for premiership. then is another one ideal for europe
    transfers…… i see benzema for clichy, well we will have a bit of that, c/half why not take a risk on any of s.taylor r.dunne, s.dann, r.nelson, all pemiership experienced all fairly cheap so worth a gamble, all talkers and bosses of the back line, and then stick the “pretty ones” around them. thoughts anyone…….

  26. 1. Song doesn’t deserve to start every game. If we don’t have better options, push one of the central defenders in his place. Song is too slow and commits fouls in dangerous areas.
    2. Don’t play Nasri wide. Let him face the goal direct.
    3. Buy one central defender in January to partner Verminator then we can compete for trophies and not just participate as we have been doing the past five seasons.

  27. i agree with you on Song, infact im fast loosing confidence in him, to me he has never been that good. as for Gibbs, defensively not bad but going forward not comparable to Chlichy. As for Asharvin, his time is up, lacks passion on the pitch but talks too much.

  28. I think by now, Wenger ought to sit down and study the videos of the last 4 games against Man Utd and Chelsea and see how to beat them;at some point, we just have to find a way, at all costs, to beat them! Its more than just 3 points;its about a ‘psychological advantage’ more than anything else. Because, we are careless about these type of games, the Dumber One of Manchester United, after explaining to Nasri that his pre-match comments were ‘misconstrued’ s now come out again to say ‘he was right about those comments’ that Arsenal is a training ground, UNLESS someone in the media, for lack of what to write, is being ‘mischievous’ just to rile Arsenal players and fans.

    My take on these big games is that I ‘ll rather we play out a dull, drab, tight 0-0 draw against Man Utd and Chelsea home and away than lose to them again! No more! Sort it out with your players Wenger! Ferguson knows the psychology of playing against his title rivals and would rather play a drab, defensive formation than lose to any of them as he did against Man City and will do against Chelsea again. In contrast, even though he adjusted it in the last game against Man Utd, Wenger often sets his team up to play ‘our game’ and this error, repeated over and over in the last three seasons, has made Arsenal players ‘freeze’ when playing these teams.

    The way to it, is to have a ‘Bullish Formation and Lineup’ for these games, knowing that they will be physical, tight and keenly contested from start to finish with the winners claiming more than just 3 points! I think a formation set up to defend first, and counterattack will help. To do this, we need to close down our flanks first by playing Eboue in front of Sagna on the right, Nasri in front of Clichy on the left, with the specific instruction to both ‘flank-men’ to ensure that no one is allowed to put crosses into the box or get past the Left Back. Secondly, play Song and Diaby as holding players behind Fabregas(and keep Rosicky, Denilson and Jack out of such matches!). Ensure that Song and Diaby to keep to their defensive midfield roles of covering the back four and battling for control of the midfield for the 90 minutes. Then play Chamakh as CF with the instruction that he should never stop harrying the CBs and dropping back into the midfield to hassle for the ball. As CBs, play Djourou and Vermaelen or DJ and Squlliaci to give us physical presence and aerial prowess.

    Right now, a wrong mentality is being formed that seems to suggest that we are no longer as good as Man Utd and Chelsea and as long as we keep losing to them, that mentality will continue to affect the players and even at their worst and at our best, we may still not be able to beat them! These losses have got to stop!

  29. My views.

    Oh no, Clichy is making us miss Ashley Cole…oooops am sorry but that is a fact. not once not twice that he has costed us a game. why he gave Nani a chance to hit the nose of Park-ji-sung, for sure he is unfit.

    Song, i said it and i will say it again…let him forget the Messi factor in him and concentrate on what he knows best…shielding the two boys behind him.

    Chechney and Fabiaski make them 1 & 2, trade Almunia

    Penalty taking…. Nasri is proving a point

    Sycronising Chamakh and Van may take another consistent half season, play them gradually replacing Arshavin with Van.

    And please please please, lets bit Stoke, Chelsiski and Wigan and close the year with Champagne to toss.

  30. Still think AA gets too much criticism, but no doubt he doesn’t check back enough. Would like to see him on right side, since Sagna is probably our best backliner. Certainly, Sagna is the best going forward. Has he ever made a bad cross? Clichy did a pretty good job on Nani, and he(Nani) will someday be compared favorably to that other portugese guy, the diver. Agree that TVM 5 would be a good lb, but he is the best cb we have. By now, I bet he wishes he had the surgery. Only other cure for Achilles is rest, and one never knows how much it takes. We had better get at least 2 more for the back 4 during transfer window, if only to have enough players to compete in the 4 competitions. Definitely agree about the myth. Nobody’s perfect.

  31. Clichy for Benzema and buy Voghten to fill the left back with Gibbs. Play Djourou and Song in DM together and Cesc in front of them. Play VP as the main central strikes, mind you he has never missed a penalty. And sometimes play Gibbs left flank and Diaby is more dangerous if he plays any of the flanks esp left flank. Then Benzema and Chamy as sub. Sell Denilson, Bendy and Vela.

  32. Nice analysis. No mention of walcott, the boy needs to either start or enter d game early… Beautiful player.
    I think rosicky is losing it,, arshavin should sit it out for a while.

  33. @Andrew: Simplifying Song’s role is the most important suggestion you’ve made (closely followed by starting Gibbs). There is probably a negative chance that Wenger reads any of these blogs and gives credibility to what is said, BUT if there ever were a suggestion out there that could dramatically improve this team, it would be your Song suggestion.

    I would just add that Arshavin be replaced (!!!), not permanently, by Vela or Walcott.

    As players become healthier, much more of the credit/blame for Arsenal’s fortunes will have to be given to Wenger. It is one thing if the squad is decimated by injuries. However, we are relatively healthy now. Maybe Wenger hasn’t really had to think too much in the past few seasons about combinations of players because many of them have been injured at the same time, so it’s been a “whomever is healthy” approach to selecting the starting XI. Now, players are fit, so Wenger needs to continue to tinker with the tactics to find the right combination.

  34. ‘Make Samir Nasri pen taker’……….eh, what?
    Firslty Cesc is the best man for pens and secondly I dont see this point having any bearing on how we can improve in relation to the point your trying to make Andy, the other four are valid points but we have options when it comes to the penaltys, whos to say we even get another one between now and May?
    I couldnt bring myself to comment on the blog since that performance the other night but I read everyones comments and I just have one thing to say; Contrary to some inexplicable reports- Our defence did not play well, Sagna was not what you said Andy he was panicking from start to finish, almost all of his passes were to marked men becasue he hurried the pass because he himself didnt want the responsibility, he put Schezny under unnecessary pressure a couple of times early on, hardly what they guy needed in the circumstances, regardless of how good he is proving to be. Part of how we play is based on sucking teams in and out of their defensive formations by using our fullbacks in one-twos or forrays up the line, this cannot be acheived when the RB/LB passes the ball too early or passes to a man with Darren bloody Fletcher up his tail, he still has the option of the pass inside to the CB, watch it again Sagna brought more problems on us than anything else on Monday.
    Squillachi and Koscielny were not good either, first half they were all over the place, Squillachi nodding down ANOTHER bread and butter clearance 7 yards into the path of Nani who skinned the post while it was Koscielnys rash gallop into MIDFIELD that led to their goal, in between that you also had a Van Der Sar punt down the field that Rooney took down uncontested with both CBs hapless on-lookers- THAT SHOULDNT HAPPEN. Second half was a coast for them because Utd sat back because they knew we couldnt hurt them so it LOOKED like both CBs were in command yet Rooney still tied them up in knots for the Anderson chance which Schezny saved brilliantly staying on his feet and making himself big whilst these ‘SOLID’ defenders also conspired to leave only another fine Schezny save between the isolated Rooney and a lobbed effort making it two, oh yeah and they also missed a pen. What did we offer offensively? A left footed Nasri weak shot that VdS somehow spilt and Chamakh was slow to react to, THAT. WAS. IT.
    Im not even going to mention Clichy because he was scandalous, hes been through it before with Nani and hasnt learned, willingly conceding ground backing off for 30 yards until, before you know it, hes on the edge of our box again……..TACKLE HIM AT HALFWAY AT LEAST IF YOU FOUL HIM THERE THERES NO DANGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! USE YOU HEAD!
    Song was shocking, concentration and enthusism- zero, which resulted in about a dozen bad touches and misplaced passes.
    Arshavin, didnt care.
    Nasri, yes he was marked but he didnt exactly change his situation by moving around, he made it easy to be contained.
    Chamakh did not have one battle with Vidic or Ferdinand and his job was to be front and centre, a pivot for that team so when you say he pulled their CBs around Andy Im sorry but thats being very kind, he was another who seemed nonplussed at being anonymous and didnt break a sweat to get involved when it wasnt happening for him.
    I enjoyed the bravery of Wilshere and Shezny, that was it.
    You have to earn the right to play football in any game first and foremost by matching your opponent for workrate, intensity, composure and conviction and Arsenal were well and truly found to be lacking for any of these components Monday night, and indeed in any of our meeting with the ‘BIG’ sides in recent years, they think they will be let pass, when this doesnt transpire they cant react.
    The pitch was one of Wengers more infuriating excuses that Iv heard and barring a hallucination or an uncanny imposter Im pretty sure it wasnt just media spin either Andy.
    So so frustrating but as usual we just have to tolerate it, don the jersey and go down for the next false dawn against the next big team that comes to outfight outhink and outmatch our team, they all seem to think they have our number, the results against utd, chelsea, barce and spurs in recent seasons dont exactly help any potential counter argument.
    Awaiting us tomorrow is a potential nightmare draw that will not be the fault of a pitch, nor linesman, nor referee, nor bad tackle, nor negative tactics nor opposition manager…….it will be the fault of the players AND manager for not doing the necessary in winning a fairly moderate group.
    Time for everyone to start taking responsibility

  35. I say, when we have players that are unfit and loosing the ball or making poor passes, Wenger must make the changes early, not 15 minutes before the final whistle… Bring in Walcott and RVP to play wide like Henry used to do., leave Nasri and Chamak to play inside. Both must STRIKE with power from outside the box, not try to walk into the goalmouth.. We love the Beautiful Sexy Football, That should come after we put the game to rest with 3 points in the bag. We need TALL defenders, our shorties are vulnerable for set pieces or long balls.

  36. Can’t say I agree with you about Gibbs, because of his repeated injuries we haven’t seen enough of him to make a any judgement. Clichy is holding the left back spot only because there is no obvious replacement.

    What we need, before a new centre back, is an experienced left back, Leighton Baines has the Premier League and International experience.

    I think we need to forget about Fabregas untill after Christmas as he is nowhere near fit enough either physically or mentally at the moment. We have played almost half a season without him and have not done too badly so I don’t think he will be missed that much when he gets his dream move to Barcelona.

    In the case of van Persie we need to reassess his usefulness, in view of his appalling injury record can we afford to keep him at the club? His numerous “comebacks” just serve to disrupt the team before he again gets injured and spends more months in the treatment room.

    Obviously Song plays to Wenger’s orders, those orders seem to include getting forward when the opportunity arises. If the player has the stamina to cope then we should accept that the manager knows what he is doing.

  37. theories do not win matches. they are won on the field. let us face the stark reality the present squad is not good enough as proved for the past six seasons. no team can land trophies with worst defensive record amongst the top six clubs. song, a blundering third rater good only at passing the ball to an opponent and giving away free-kicks, denilson a chicken going nowhere, diaby a headless donkey, rudderless vela, error-prone clichy and buttered fingered”alumuniam: have been provided enough opportunities and they had failed and should be off-loaded if to succeed against top clubs and buy couple of top class players and not cheap french fries.To top it the team have too many softies rvp, gibbs and now cesc who for the past two seasons seems to be watching from the comfort of home or in the stands. .It will be a mini miracle if the present squad and arsene are capable of ending the title drought.

  38. Wenger IS NOT changing the formation to accommodate V. Persie. The formation is the same as when Cesc was playing just behind Chamakh in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Against Man United, Wenger used V.Persie as the second striker as this seemed necessary to create more pressure on Vidic and Ferdinand.

    As long as Fabregas is injured and is not playing, Wenger has the option of using Nasri, Rosicky and V.Persie in the hole behind Chamakh. Since all these three players have different qualities, the way they play in that position is naturally different. Van Persie is well suited to that role, as he likes to drop back and receive the ball in a position facing the goal, rather than a more classical centre-forward like Chamakh, who destabilizes defenses with his tireless running and hassling.

    To be sure, the reason Van Persie did not impress in the hole up to this point is because he presently lacks sharpness due to just coming back from injury. I think as long as Fabregas is not playing, Van Persie is the right choice to play behind the striker (much suited than the other candidate Rosicky) as he can shoot really well as you all know. The truth is Chamakh is not a deadly finisher with his feet, and Van Persie provides more clinical qualities in terms of finishing.

    Unlike what some uninformed people say, Van Persie cannot replace Arshavin on the left flank, as his defensive qualities is even less than Arshavin. Can anyone imagine Van Persie tracking down the opposition right back up and down the pitch. Please think again.

    I also disagree with your assessment of asking Song only to defend. Arsenal need both Wilshere and Song to join the attack as this is abolutely necessary for the possesion game they play.

  39. 1. What we really lack is a true box to box midfielder who has pace. Song is too slow and concedes too many fouls. Denilson also too one paced but his positional discipline is better than Song’s. Wilshire is not a DM. I would have thought that Vermeulen could be an option for DM.
    2.Formation – I think too much emphasis is placed on formation. I would like to see the players switch around more during the game to keep defences guessing. Nasri moving to the middle or to the left, Arshavin the same from the other side, RvP dropping deep and Fabregas pushing up. I also think some serious questions need to be asked about our fitness levels. Barcelona play a high tempo game for 90 mins and press and press and press to force the opposition into a mistake to win the ball back. That comes down to high levels of fitness and desire.
    3.Keepers – Fabianski was performing well before his injury. But I am impressed by what I have seen of Sczesney – reminds me of a young Schmeichel- he just has that imposing physical presence. Adios to Manuel.
    4.Left Back – I still believe Clichy is our best option for now but he needs midfield cover and too often he does not get that from Arsh. Gibbs if he could stay fit might be a long term option but he is crocked too often to be sure.
    5.Penalties – RvP anyday. Even when he places it he shoots harder than most. In a penalty shoot out my five would be RvP, Nasri, Cesc, TV and Walcott. Although I am taking a punt on the last one!
    6.I think Chamakh needs a rest – he looks jaded . Give NB52 a go against Stoke.

  40. very interesting points weber.
    I said at the start of the season that if song plays well arsenal will do very well cause his role is the most IMPORTANT in our system. He has not played well and that’s wengers fault.
    They make the same mistakes every year they apparently haven’t learnt anything.

    Let me asked two questions that i’v asked already .

    1. Has arsenal improved significantly since 2005?
    Check the facts and figures they don’t lie you all can answer this by yourself.

    2. All this talk about vanpercy being world class makes me sick. How do you prove someone is world class, the arsenal measuring sick is very limited.

    All vanpecy has is a fantastic technique and that’s it he is not an opportunist. I can name 7 or 8 strikers in the prem better at striking than him. AND! to hammer home my point when he is fit he takes almost all of our free kicks when last has he scored one, 2 or 3 years ago against westbrom at the emirates.

    Wenger must take all the blame, he built this team

    May GOD help us tomorrow cause for sure we can’t beat any of the spanish teams the germans are our best bet, HELL! am sure both bayern and schalka are saying the same-thing.

  41. The “bench Arshavin” angle is stupid. Arshavin’s been disappointing visually (6 goals and 10 assists aren’t bad numbers) but he’s the only player on the team that receives the ball and doesn’t look to pass; he dribbles straight toward the defender and goal, and we need more of that.

    Bring Theo on for Arshavin at 65 minutes when the defenders are tired; that would be an instant improvement.

  42. Hello, great blog you have here, my first time reading it and love this article. Its hard to find decent and sensible gunners out there today. Seems like 5 years of a trophy drought has driven some of us mentally mad and itchingly impatient.

    Song does need to get back to his regular role of last season. He was outstanding and should improve on it there, instead of trying to give different dimensions to his game. He is a better faster distributor of the ball in our half of the pitch. I feel like he is tryign to improve his offensive game beacuse his wife has been pressuring him to score goals and become better attacking wise. He always talks about how he scored this goal and that goal for his wife because she asekd him to score today and blah blah.

    We dont necessarily have to change the formation, but we do need to accomodate Chamakh and RVP somehow in there together, because tehy both are not benchable when fit. RVP i hope plays on the right wing, and nasri moves to the left benching Arsha, at least until he rediscovers his confidence and touch. I fancy RVP on the right because he loves doing the trickery and holding up play, is a excellent crosser and has a mean left foot that he can turn in and smack straight into goal as we have seen him do multiple times before. RVp has a good understanding of other players games and will surely set up great headers for chamkh to bang in as well.

    I do agree with you 100% that AW is tryign to get gibbs to come in and replace clichy smoothly, but it just hasnt worked out at all that way due to his injury nightmares. Hopefully he will be back and kicking on soon injury free. We need him because clichy does tend to make awful mistakes at key moments. But i wouldnt say clichy is horrible or needs to leave arsenal, beacuse he is still a great player. And maybe real competition with gibbs is just what he needs to improve himself and becoming stronger and sharper mentally.

    Last but not leaset, penalty kick takers, nasri is great you are right, but why do we need to replace RVP or cesc whn tehy both are doing fine as well? We dont have a penalty kick taker problem in our team hence i dont think that issue needs to be adressed at all. Sorry mate.

  43. Nice comments all, had a good read through and can’t reply to all of them, too much other work to do!

    But thank-you to everyone who commented and indeed everyone who has been reading and commenting over the past weeks. I think the change to less articles, with more detail, is reigniting the AFCB community again.

  44. Have to go through Barca to win it. Should not have had to face them in round of 16. Especially without Sagna in home leg. Will be no shame to lose to them; shame is in facing them in this round. Manure already celebrating “easy” draw against Marseiile. Velodrome not easy place to play, though. Think I have a new Ligue 1 favorite team

  45. hope to see a much better Arsenal side this time. Last season we didn’t have Cesc, Verminator, RvP, Song, Gallas, Arshavin for the return leg at the Nou Camp.

  46. we’re done in the CL now. early guess is one goal loss at home and 1 or 2 in barcelona. this team hasn’t shown me anything to make me think otherwise. i’d be very happy to be proven wrong, but the apprehension felt before every big game hasn’t been proven wrong yet.

    back the article… i agree. would love to see chamakh and vP together, but trying to figure that out while playing catch up with the leaders is not the time to do it. try it in the carling cup but not in the league. we really need a good game this weekend… free flowing, no nonsense, lots of goals (for arsenal), and no broken legs (unless it’s shawcross’).

  47. Everyone keeps saying how well Chamakh is playing, but frankly I feel the only good thing he does is hold the ball well upfront and head the ball.

    I have never seen him take a rasping shot at goal. His speciality is being in the box and holding the ball to play it around well. I think this puts a lot more pressure on the midfielders to go past him to score.

    I am not saying he is bad, but he has to add the shooting and left foot play to add to his game. Add to it, he never runs on to the defenders.. his role seems to hold the defender with him and free some other player.

    Gael Clichy is not getting enough support. He always seems lost out there specially since Arshavin is too much of a gentleman to sternly kick out an attack.I look forward to Vermaelen coming in because every other central defender is right footed and as a result, every time Clichy is bypassed, our central defenders are stuck with what to do..

  48. pssssssssssst. …… the project has failed. barcelona in the cl will prove this. back to the drawing board

  49. I would also suggest:

    Refrain from making comments after disappointing matches that might even appear to be excuses. Too often we hear talk about the quality of the pitch, poor officiating, opponents playing a cynical game, etc. I know that all managers are prone to this, some more than others. But when you have a group of young players who seem too often to lack discipline, it is surely a mistake to give them the impression that their losses are somehow not their responsibility. They will develop more steel more quickly if their manager calls them out (as a group, not individually) after poor performances for substandard work.

    Lose the Francophilia. The number of French-speaking players on this team cannot be a coincidence, and if acquaintance with the French language has anything to do with successful football, then so does hair color. I think we can look to his reluctance to promote Gibbs over Clichy as a case in point as to how team management can suffer from week to week as a result of such a bias, and surely the same bias negatively affects decisions on acquisition and disposition of players over the long term.

    Find a way to put Nasri into his (stated) preferred central midfielder role. If Rosicky is still worthy of being a starter he can work the left flank while Walcott works the right. I’d use either him or Arshavin – whichever one showed in the prior game that he’s interested in working hard on both sides of midfield. I’d have no problem sitting Arshavin, and I’d resist the notion to cover his poor performances by pretending that he’s playing the role he’s been given by the manager – that was patent rubbish, AW.

    Give the younger Pole a few more starts and see what he can do in competition against quality sides.

  50. You all talk nonsense. Leave the matter to the Professor. And please be advised once and for all that the gunners are in good hands. The only problem is that these hands are a bit stingy.

  51. Comments about AW and the rest are spot on except the one on Song and Clichy are a bit to harsh to me. So he is our favrite when he scores goals by pushing forward but he ” doesnt have footballer brain” when he fails few risky passes on a launch of an attack while we all saw Rosicky failing to do his Job as an Attacking central Midfileder like Cesc.Song had to step in to do the job cos he saw Rosicky wasnt up to do it.Song only pushes forward when he feels that our upfront boys are struggling and needs some suppport but He has always kept his Job as an holding mdfldr when we do good up there.
    I think the whole problem here lays with Arshavin who is still an extremely talented player and shud have been given cecs role instead of Rosicky according to me.But the guy is lazy, I think he is getting old!! I dunno!!! thats why Clichy is struggling cos he doesnt have enough cover from Arshavin, He comes up to cover Arsha on attack but arsha doesnt do the same for him on defence.I shud say the lad must be ready to retire very soon and thats why I beleive that the reason being of AW not play Theo now iis this: AW still wants to sell Arshavin for a reasonnable price, if he sits on the bench then he wud wurth nothing on the market so he must be on the pitch to perform.
    I beleive that ARSHA IS our weakest link and one of the main reason we ve lost games.He doesnt provide danger on the wing and doesnt provide cover on defence, simple as that. if Cesc isnt fit yet, then I shud say AW shud put Arsha there in the central midfield but he must be tough and strong enough to face Central midfld holders otherways he shud be on the bench, but having him on the wing is a total loss.
    Finally, I must say that AW is very harsh or may be WRONG on playing Theo Walcott on the right, to me he shud be playing on the left wing so that he can bring danger in central axe of the field, He will be a big danger for defenders if he is on the left, more players would have more space to play and to me he shud be one of our key players.He fast and can score in front of the goal, how many goals he has now after spending 70% of his time on the bench and came in to score a winner.

  52. The best thing Arsen Wenger can do for Arsenal is to resign. The Wigan match was critical for Arsenal’s title aspirations. Had they come out and please excellent football and scored a decisive victory ( Say 4-1), following on the chelsea defeat, the moral of the team would have skyrocketed, their confidence surged, and there belief and desire to win the title cemented. Wenger How to response ability to field is absolute best team. That would’ve been the 1 that played against chelsea. Instead he substituted 8 players, Removing some of the best. A grave mistake which our club will pay for dearly. I was watching the match alone. I saw Nasri and Wolcot Warming up. The way the match yesterday I knew that Wigan would score a goal, maybe 2 and deliver a tragic and needless upset. At the 60th minute, he HAD To bring on Those 2 pics

  53. You could not risk waiting any longer to try and score that third goal. So what does mister Wemger do? He waits to the 83rd minute to bring on the players. Too late Mr. Wenger. They hardly have time to warm up. Result? Arsenal reverts to being the inconsistent, flaky team many think it is. And he has done it many times before. Choosing the wrong players, substituting to late. As Jose Morinho said, Wenger is “a looser”. Always the wrong decisions. Thank you for your services but you now really must leave!

  54. First of all I would like to leave some great feedback to this site! I almost agree with all points, except the penalty situation. VP is a great set-piece-taker! His free kicks as well as his penalties are taken very well… If he can stay fit for almost a complete season, we could be contenders for major honours. Clichys bad moments are far more than his good moments. A lot of his mistakes are the introduction of a goal for the opponents. Gibbs played very well and I think if he is back he will get his chance soon!

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