Arsenal 0-2 Liverpool: Short squad punished

The following is a guest post from Mark Thompson, a London-born Berlin-based Gooner who is filling in for me while I take some time off in Sweden.

Two games in to this 2011 Premier League campaign and a quick number crunch reads one draw, one loss, no goals scored and two conceded; Gooners haven’t seen an Arsenal start this bad since TV was in black and white.

But I believe these stats are more a consequence of how AFC has been run since the tail end of last season instead of an indication of what we can expect for this season. The squad has been allowed to shorten while new recruits have not exactly set the pulses racing and key positions, namely at the back, in attack, and in that gaping Cesc shaped hole in midfield have not been dealt with. Yet Arsene still has money and time to try and remedy our problems and it’s a long season, so I’m not exactly hitting the panic button.

Frimpong was fearless but reckless

As for today I think every Arsenal fan out there would have settled for a draw, what with our extensive injury list and suspensions to Song and Gervinho who both fell foul of the Barton factor last week at Newcastle. Now we can add Frimpong to that list. Before he became the third player in a year to see red on his league debut, Frimpong made a promising start to his Arsenal career, breaking up play with some important tackles and adding support to the attack with some surging runs. I think inexperience got the better of him today, resulting in too many clumsy fouls and a dangerous challenge in the second half saw him receive his marching orders. We now go into the game against Man United short of any midfield destroyer. Yikes.

From then on a tiring ten-man-Arsenal began to be exploited by the tactically astute Dalglish substitutions which saw a fresh Meireles and Suarez enter the fray. Everyone could see a Liverpool goal was on the cards, just not in the manner it actually happened. Ignasi replaced the injured Koscielny mid way through the first half, and despite some nervous early moments, went on to have a good debut performance, albeit one he will probably want to forget. After the Liverpool wide men got round the back and attempted to play through to the middle of the Arsenal box, Miquel made an important interception clearance. Unfortunately it was straight into the onrushing Ramsey’s shoulder, looping the ball freakishly over Szczesny’s head and into the net. All that was missing was Almunia.

I never really saw any way back into the match for us then, and would have felt that pinching a draw would have been robbery. Walcott and Arshavin’s continued wastefulness out wide quashed any dreams we might have had of stealing a point, and with an overrun midfield the main man RVP wasn’t getting the ball as much as he should have. After a limping Jenkinson brought Arsenal down to nine men, the Pool virtually walked the ball in for the killer second goal.

The next couple of weeks will be one of the most decisive in Arsenal’s modern history. We need to stay in the Champions League, get a win in the league and make at least one of those signings we’ve been promised by Wenger and numerous members of the board.

While Andy’s frolicking around Sweden looking for the next Ljungberg, I’d love to hear what you thought of what could be Nasri’s last outing, and what you your shouts are for the midfield we could/should play this week at Udinese. I’m stumped.

Spread the Arsenal by leaving a comment.



  1. Midfield vs udinese? Its a tricky one. With Koscielny and Djourou both our who is there to play alongside vermaelen who a pedigree at centre back. Song seems to be the only one. Playing a centre back pairing of song and vermalen would be fine but the problem you then get is who to play in midfield. My belief is that he will go with vermaelen and song at centre back and put frimpong and ramsey in the middle of the park. Wide will be gervinho, who like song will be fresh and probably walcott. If wilshere is back he will play in the cesc role but if not i imagine that only leaves arshavin. Then of course there is mr.nasri who I highly highly doubt will play but we’ll see. U just never know till these things are done and dusted.

    Good post btw mate. V.well balanced article I thought.

  2. Not hitting the panic button yet? Well you should be. This cruise control mindset from Arsenal fans is ridiculous. After this weekend, we’ll have taken 1 point from 9. The battle for 4th is on, and we’re already behind the ball. I see the long term plan Arsene is putting into place, but this year will be very difficult.

    Anyway, we should play whoever isn’t injured, isn’t suspended, and isn’t making a CL debut. This leaves Rosicky, Ramsey, and Song. TV5 and Djourou (I think he’s fit). The midfield doesn’t have the creation to make goals and the back line will be missing a key piece. I think Udinese will fancy their chances in this one.

  3. Until that freakish own goal I didn’t see that Miquel did anything wrong on Saturday. I’d be tempted to risk him along with TV and have both Song and Frimpong in midfield to provide decent cover and push Wilshire further forward. Front three would then be Gervinho, RVP and Nasri (to bugger up his move to $ity).

    The alternative at CB is Squillaci and I don’t think things are as bad as that are they?

    Just caught the second half of Manure thumping Spuds. At least they are are bottom of the table! The weekend game is going to be a tough call with all those injuries and suspensions. Don’t want to think of that game yet!

  4. @Morgan Perspective is what I think Mark is calling for here and I don’t blame him for calling for it. let’s wait until the window is shut and we know what team we have until January at least and let’s also judge the team once we get the best players back from injury/suspension.

    @Terry, I agree, let’s give Miquel a whole game. After his first touch I thought he was gona have a shocker but he actually gave a pretty assured display, so why not? We could do with Song in the middle.

    Big fortnight coming up boys!

  5. @ Morgan you cannot hit the panic button until the transfer window closes. In the game against Liverpool Arsenal were missing a few players and it was 0-0 until Frimpong got sent off. Yes, Arsenal does need to sign a few players, but there is still time. As for claiming a loss before the Manure game has even kicked off – the word supporter denotes that you support the team, not the opposite. It is in the bad times when true supporters are differentiated from the ‘glory hunters’.

    Good post by the way Mark.

  6. @terry, dylan and jamie could someone tell me what the panic button constitutes and what difference it will make if it is hit. Are you saying that you might start asking stiffer questions as to where this team might be heading based on what has been occurring over the last few seasons. As Arsenal supporters will you exercise your right to be critical about the manager and the position he has put the team in on the pitch? Or will you just remain quiet until a short instance of good fortune or results.

  7. by the way i believe the pairing of Frimpong and Song in the midfield is an excellent idea. It will go a long way too filling the wholes that are constantly left when the going gets tough. Those two players will give the middle stability and steel should Wenger adopt the 4-2-3-1 system because the two know they can share the leg work load between them. The softer more creative players can hopefully do whats necessary further forward by grabbing an away goal. Jervinho and Walcott can provide a little width and speed in offensive situations.
    If Wenger decides to use my battle tactics the team will have a chance. (just jokes boys)

  8. Fabs just scored his first goal for Barca v Napoli during a five Zero victory. Is there a footy strike in Spain at the moment. I believe this will be the second week.

  9. @Ice – I never mentioned the panic button. It’s a thought though for our shirts. Rather than have some dodgy airline on it why don’t we have Don’t Panic emblazoned in big friendly letters a la Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy?! Glad you approve of the Frimpong/Song combo – I reckon it could be what our spine needs.

    BTW has anyone read this – an interesting take on the transfer/wage structure issue at our club? Kind of makes sense to me.

  10. For any serious Arsenal fan like myself, whatever is happening (or will happen) in the EPL wont be unexpected.

  11. @ Terry, if there´s any truth in article about wenger and the board,then we are barking at the wrong tree,calling for wengers head,and i think this article may be true,didn´t this blackwell-smith lady recently say the same thing? Accusing the board of not doing enough to take us back to the glory years? It makes sense somehow,when arsene said,you can´t call yourself a big club,and sell your two best players,he was taking a swipe at the board, methinks,

  12. panic button? no, but worrying
    best expression: ‘All that was missing was Almunia.’ :mrgreen:
    I can’t see the matches, but it sounds all too familiar

  13. @Terry – It was not an Ignasi own goal. Why was Ramsey rushing towards goal like that? Is he a defender? I blame Ramsey for it. And i like the Song – Frimpong combo, i guess Wilshere will bench Ramsey and that will be it. Gervinho behind VP with Walcott and Miyaichi on the flanks.
    @Francis – Beautiful stuff there about Arshavin, i dont know what people watch. Believe me I wanted to kill myself when i found out who Chamakh really was (A NO SPEED, NO SHOOTING C..T) last season and yet some fools were saying he is our saviour.

    I still don’t believe we should sell Nasri though, unless selling him makes us get the duke of HAZARD.

  14. This panic button talk is a riot.
    I think we should sell a few more quality players,sign a few more teenagers and wait on the results.
    What the heck have you guys been smoking, shall we wait until the flames reach the powder magazine and then consider lowering the life boats?
    I think it was Van Halen that said it best dudes.
    You better JUMP.

  15. For those of you who seem to have forgotten your duty – here is the definition of the word supporter from the Oxford dictionary:

    1 a person who approves of and encourages a public figure , political party, policy, etc.
    a person who is actively interested in and wishes success for a particular sports team

    I do not see much approval, encouragement or oddly enough even the wishing of success from many of these posts.

    @leftcoastgooner what do you mean by jump – are you planning on jumping ship and supporting Man U, if so I refer you to my definition of the word supporter.

  16. I, like many, am very worried about the state of affairs at my club of late. I however do not support the panic driven cry for wengers head. He is the man for Arsenal, the loss of Wenger would be the beginning of a crisis. We do not know the story between wenger and the board. Yes, I will admit, I am not optimistic about the United game this weekend but I will still be in the pub, pint in hand, wearing the red and white screaming for The Arsenal to thump those wooly back bastards. Anything else would constitute a loss of pride and that will never happen. Arsenal is bigger than the last 6 years.

  17. Under the circumstances the team did ok. The youngsters brought in did better than could be expected to be honest, Jenkinson, Miquel, Lansbury put in a shift, I liked Frimpong and with a bit of experience here could be that “rough diamond” in midfield we have been missing since the likes of Petit and Parlour. Basically its in AW’s hands, he has the money to buy the players we need so I’m going to reserve judgement until I see who we sign (if anyone?). I thought Nasri was very good and put a shift in despite all the preceding name-calling etc and I hope he finds what he’s looking with Man City.

  18. Whatever happen i can’t think of supporting any other club. Still I would dream that Arsenal will the EPL. Arsenal Till I DIE

  19. I think Dylan as a kid was the class monitor and overall a downer. Probably teacher’s pet or water carrier. XP

  20. @Ianinja: his dictionary reference might come across nerdy but I reckon Dylan is more the kind of kid who took part in sports week without wanting to change to the best team cos his was not doing so great…

    people suggesting we need to “jump” need to learn what real support is all about.

  21. @Dylan
    No dude, I’m never to abandon ship. Jump in this case means move as in make a move now. Thinking of which Nasri went to Man City this morning.
    What does the OED definition of “threadbare”?

  22. Can someone enlighten me on what the deal was between Rioch and Dein. Rioch was sacked after 1 year as the board decided he was not the man to take the club forward and Wenger was available. Also Rioch had a bad relationship with our then star player Ian Wright who probably would have been sold if Rioch had stayed.

    Now what I have just written is in the public domain why was Rioch silenced.

    I have always felt if Wenger has been protecting the board then he has no credibility he is a football manager not a PR man.

  23. Somebody please look up blind faith.

    I’m not calling for the manager’s head. However, I’m being realistic that the premier league is a hell of a lot tougher then it was during the better years of Wenger’s career. Man City, Chelsea, and Man U are all light years ahead of us in quality, depth, and experience. While were letting the most talented players leave the club, they’re accumlating proven talent. It’s the big three, not the big four, and we’ll be lucky to qualify for 4th. Should we fail to do that kiss the CL money goodbye…plan foiled. The result is players want to leave and top quality signings don’t want to come to the club.

    Call me a non supporter all you want, but the system has failed, like it or not. Maybe round 2 will be different, but don’t question my support for not betting the mortgage on it.

  24. @dylan SAgooner, im sure you wont be the only one in a pub supporting, and i did not read about anyone wanting to join Manure man, (@leftcost). Left not go over the top in order to prove a point.

  25. We need about 3 proven additions and our season will be back on track that is if those injured players also recover fast. We need a descent striker, a provrn attcking midfielder/ creativity and a defender to partner TV. and the rest will be history. Rosicky, Chamak,Diaby,Squilachi and Almnia should just be compensated what they are entitled to and let out of the club that is if there is no one to buy them.Am in particular bitter with how on earth a talent spoter could have spotted Chamak.This is utter rubbish for Wenger to have fooled the fans this time long. No wonder he had to wait until his contract runs down. Fergie is a light years ahead in spotting talent than this moron of a Coach at arsenal. Look at Webeck ,one season on loan and his a force to reckon with.Compare that with our Carlos vela who is now back on loan for a 3rd season.Even mid table teams like Everton can assemble a descent squad than aresnal. This is abysmal.Only a fool would have kind words for this French fry. It is absolutely rubbish and irritating for the loyal fans who have paid dearly to support a bunch of average players and board directors dividends. U dinese will have done us justice and saved us further embarrassmet shouldthey thump us. We can’t compete in the last 16 with any team there well knowing that Benfica which is among easily thuped us in preaseason.Wenger has never devised a system of how to best use Walcott. With a depleted squad it is elementary that counter attacking football would suit us better since the midfield shields the defense better. I hope he heeds to the idea at OT. Othewise am envisaging an embarassment should he fail to stick to a game plan. There are cheap descent players for heavens sake look at Chicharito, Welbeck etc .Letr me wait for Udinese.

  26. @vcc am not even optimistic of what players Wenger will bring in by the end of the transfer window. This moron last season brought in mew players who were Chamak, Squillachi ,Koscienly,Silvestre. And you can imagin whether this is the right man to take arsenal forward. If Blackburn can,t sign Silvester then how on eart can arsenal fc even give silvester entry to our gates. The coach is simply disrespectful of arsenal fc and the fans at large. Its utter rubbish to present to us boys and convince us that they are at the same level with men.Whats hurts most is even on the day Liverpool played averagely they handsomely walked out with two good goals moreover at Emirates and the opening game at home.It is embarassing .Dont even mention about the red card. We were rubbish even before the red card. You can’t get good players on the transfer deadline. Please buy immediately to save us the OT embarassment and save our champions league spot. Liverpool who have bought almost a full squad are still in the market and a mere fact that they beat us at home with a big margin is a real statement of intent for fourth spot.Dont forget Totenham will be there fighting for the fifth spot.

  27. @Morgan
    You have every right. In their spare time, supporters are people too and sometimes will react like them.
    It’s 03:20 on the west coast and I’m combing the news for transfer links before work and still hoping.
    To each dude.

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