Mathieu says don’t moan, but I just can’t help it

There has been a lot of talk from the supporters, managers and players about the state of the pitch at the JJB Stadium and the affect it had on Arsenal’s performance against Wigan on Saturday. Anyone who saw the game would have noted that the pitch was an absolute shambles, making Arsenal’s passing game an almost impossible task and undoubtedly favouring the home side’s more direct style of play. But while the playing surface certainly robbed the away side of their ability to play in the manner that they prefer, Arsenal midfielder Mathieu Flamini has refused to blame the pitch for his team’s inability to take all three points home from the trip to Wigan.

“The pitch was horrible but what can you say? It was the same for both teams. Of course we like to play and we had to play more long balls so it was more difficult for us. But you cannot moan.”

I agree with Mathieu, but I can’t help itHe’s right, of course, but I’m still going to have a good old moan about it anyway. It was by far the worst pitch that Arsenal have had to play on this season and at the end of the day was nothing short of unacceptable. Premier League clubs, no matter how small, make enough money to maintain their pitches in a manner far above that at the JJB and Wigan should be ashamed with what they produced on Sunday.

Coincidentally, I had to play on a similarly difficult pitch for my club side, University of Queensland, last weekend. While I don’t play to anywhere near the level of a Premiership player and subsequently could not expect to play on the best quality pitches in the world, the one I had to play on on the weekend at Toowoomba (look it up!) was exceptionally difficult, perhaps even the most difficult I had played on since playing first grade football.

It wasn’t that the grass wasn’t nice or there were patches missing or anything like that, it was just that it the ground underfoot was so hard and the surface was incredibly bobbly. It made controlling the ball insanely difficult and dribbling at pace almost impossible. Now, my club is reasonably strong in its division and prides itself on playing a good brand of possession football, something we regularly achieve at our home ground or any other that allows for nice, crisp passing to be executed. As you can imagine, the pitch we had to play on in Toowoomba did not allow it.

The result? A 0-0 draw with very few chances, characterised by shambolic dribbling and passing and a clearly inferior home team having a great deal more success in handling the conditions. And while my teammates and I tried our best not to blame the pitch for our poor performance at the end of the match, I couldn’t ignore the fact that at the end of the day it played a pretty big part. We lost focus because everything we normally do with such ease did not come naturally and it totally ruined the flow of our game. As a result, we never really got going.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. And while there is no point moaning about the state of the pitch ruining Arsenal’s chances of beating Wigan on Sunday there’s also no point going over the top about how poorly the boys played. At the end of the day, despite dropping two valuable points, Wenger’s side are still in a great position to win the Premiership, as the manager outlined after the match.

“It is tighter than ever. We dropped two points today and we are going through a patch at the moment. But the team is still focused. We want to remain calm and determined then we’ll have a very good chance to do it.”

With Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal still to play each other one more time there will be plenty of opportunities for Wenger’s team to win the league. Indeed, this Arsenal side have shown time and time again that playing the best sides tends to bring out the best in them and I’ve no doubt in my mind that they can come through difficult trips to Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge with the results the require. And if they can combine that with consistent performances against the league’s lesser lights then it could well be enough to win the Premiership.

What do you think?

Have your say on poor pitches and Arsenal by leaving a comment.



  1. All I can say is that it comes down to whether we beat Man utd or if we draw, and chelsea of liverpool/everton or both beat man utd, and we beat chelsea and liverpool/everton, then we should make it. Otherwise, who knows!

  2. I know I’ve quoted this probably too much already this season but I think it still applies to Arsenal’s situation.

    “To be the best you have to beat the best.”
    – Cesc

  3. Wigan roughed up the pitch with a rugby match before the Arsenal game in purpose everyone knows it but they didn’t break the law its up to the officials to set the standards on the state of the pitch and decide whether its playable or not. I don’t blame Wigan, they are fighting relegation. We have to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and battle on. if you are a warrior you don’t pick where to fight your enemy so the same rule apply and the players should condition themselves for these type of pitches. I believe there is still a lot of twists and turns before the title is won. Arsenal, Chelsea and M.Utd are going to drop points I’m absolutely certain about that the question is how many. The only positive we can take is that we only lost once this season still unbeaten at home and its no fluke and that might be the difference.RVP looked rusty but one more game and the fireworks will start, I have a hope in him scoring a last minute free kick to snatch the title at the end of the season.

  4. Teams will always try to upset the rhythm of a good passing side by whatever means, in Arsenal’s case this is something we’ve had to live with for a while now.We have to readily accept that fact, week in,week out,if we are going to win the title.In short,lets stop being a bit french about bad pitches and conditions and get on with it!

  5. Hey Arsenal whats comment on the wigan game which ended goalless.we going through a rough patch even when we have prepaired more than enough,i personally think that we still have the chance to win the title.All we need is a little bit of patience and hope mau u will stamble.lets keep on the fight and great to have van per se back.

  6. SF: How about putting together an analysis of our “sexy” kind football, its merits and disadvantages, as compared to the “direct” kind of football. What the requirements are for both styles, or any other additional styles. What would be needed to change either style to the other, what would be gained or lost by doing that, etc. You have my email(from posts) so hit me up and we can exchange some ideas before publishing it on the blog so that other fans can also contribute. We could track/compile all the inputs and have a comprehensive post at say the end of the season or before the next season. The reason I suggest this is that I believe people are missing the “connect” between our style of football and our form this season, and think AW just want flair for just being flair. The “flair” has a purpose, and it is the most effective way to play, where you are in control of a situation. We have been at the top of the epl for 23 out of 29 weeks thanks to the “flair” and people are just looking at it from just one aspect and conveniently choose to ignore the more important aspects of it.

    Thank you for your post today about a bad pitch you had to play on. I have played on numerous of those including ones with “trenches” and almost no grass. WHOEVER “truthfully believes” that the pitch doesn’t matter has 1. Never Played football, 2 if they did, were technically awful(in which case nothing matters other than the ball and a goal), or are tv pundits(buffoons) who are concerned about people opinions(about themselves) more than the facts/truths, i.e liars.

    I am deeply disappointed by some of yesterdays comments, and similar comments about buying players and such. For all their “Superior/World class” players, Man U have been on top of the epl only a total of 3 weeks out of 29(28). Our “inferior players” despite our injuries have kept us there for 23 out of 29. For all the “directness” of other teams, they had to share only 3 weeks and that include “Super” Chavskis and Liverpool. Just how “inferior” are our “inferior” players?. I get the impression that people throw around “Strength in depth” monicker just because they hear it on tv so much, hence it is cool, and not realy paying attention to what it actually means. What other team in the epl can put out 2 teams simultaneously to play against prem opositions other than Arsenal and win? Man U carling cup squad couldn’t even match a lower div. opposition while ours have consistently been dumping out prem teams. If that is not a measure of the squad depth then what is?. Man U squad is only 3 players more than us, but when Rooney and Ronaldo are out they lose. Is that a true measure of their “Depth”? While we say player need to be “fit to put on the jersey” how about some fans being “fit to call ourselves Arsenal FANS”.

    STOP BEATING UP OUR TEAM,PLAYERS AND MANAGER needlessly. They have done well so far and there is no reason to doubt them now. Can’t people see the Galacticos and Barcas. They have/had the top players in the world and are not exactly beating the world, are they?


  7. It is no coincidence that we have more injuries. The more technical players gets injured/fouled more that the less gifted ones in a “direct/in your face/committed” environment that is the EPL. Our squad is all technical to the point that even the less technical in our team is superb to the rest but don’t appear to be, to a casual observer (Law of Just Noticeable Difference applies). Lets hope for the sake of the English league, more protection will be afforded to technical players as everyone else. Why would a player want to raise his technique when he can cut the mustard by being a thug on the pitch? He would have if that was the only way he could succeed.

    TayGoon = needs therapy

  8. TayGoon..totally totally agree with u! when we played AC and thrashed them, our underdog team proved one thing to th world: we are th best..

  9. i agree with flamini that you cannot blame the pitch. it’s always the same thing with referees when you’re growing up playing sports. you can’t blame the referees for your loss. you just have to play the game. though this was a very disappointing and frustrating loss. we win at san siro and then cannot even muster a goal against, of all teams, but wigan. simply awful. i think adebayor did not play very well. or atleast didn’t finish well at all. he had chances and he simply didn’t capitalize on them. and while it’s easy to blame him, and sure he probably deserves some of the blame, no goalscorer can score goals in every single game they play in and so arsenal fans should expect other players to step up. at the beginning of the year it was fabregas, then adebayor, then eduardo. but now who? hopefully RVP can run his way back into the lineup. i also blame wenger a bit for this loss. everyone loves AW, but i think putting fabregas on the right is never a good idea. never ever. fabregas and flamini might be the best pairing in the world in the middle of the pitch, so why EVER break that up? i MUCH would’ve rather started denilson on the right. or even gilberto on the right for god’s sake but NEVER break up fabregas and flamini. but on another note, has anybody noticed that the two players who are constantly trying to crack into the starting team are ALWAYS injured? diaby and walcott? it seems everytime they play in a game they have to get injured somehow. they don’t even have to come out of the game. they could play the whole ninety minutes and it seems after the game they’ve realized that their hamstring hurts a little too much to play in the next weeks game. these two need to suck it up a bit more and just play some football.

  10. I’m not blaming the pitch – I just felt like having a good ol’ moan for once. Considering what I had to play on last weekend as well I thought it was most appropriate.

    Time to move on though, it seems. Maybe Derby can do us a favour or two this week and take some points off either Chelsea or United. Eek.

  11. Derby to do us a favour? they are officially the worst team ever to have played in the premier league.Maybe a miracle will happen.I thinking Aston Villa will nick few points of M.utd.

  12. I totally have to agree with you TayGoon.The pitch was awful but it was just one of those days. I think whatever happens this season Arsene has instilled in us the belief that we can be as good as we always thought we were but this season has addded results to performance. We havent won the last 3 games but we’ve lost only once in the EPL. Man U have lost 4 times!!!!!!! Sadly media hype,spin and sensalisation tends to make fans loose all sense of persepctive and feed us the same vitriole of implosion, guttlessness, unEnglishnsess, lack of strength in depth to name a few.I’d say our team has performed exceptionally with a smaller but not inferior squad,shown passion and commitment , been unlucky with ijnuries but maintained leadership of a fiercley contested EPL despite our apparent shortcomings.Have a lil faith Gooners.Arsene knows!

  13. Hye Gunners, a very good day to you. In regards to the JJB Stadium’s condition, the pitch was really terrible. Anyway, good team like Arsenal should have came back with all 3 points with the minimum clear card chances we’ve created but what to do, faith has other idea. Now, we have to do it the hard way but never mind. To be the best we need to beat the good teams at their home ground (remember we beat Man U, home & away last season)& i have a feeling that we have all it takes to beat them up & be the BPL 2007/2008 season champion. Only, need to convert chances into goal & the rest are just fine.


  14. Guys don’t be suprised if Derby nick a point off Man U. Man U are very notorious for highly unlikely losses and draws.

  15. Maybe so – but Derby is a stretch too far I feel. They’ve only picked up 10 points all season, it would be a big ask for them to get any against Manchester United. It could be a thrashing!

  16. If, no sorry, correction. When we beat Man Utd, the only other chalenges we will have Will be Che/Liv/Eve. Something we need to NOT do is to fall into the same trap we did last year. We would have finished 1st out of a table made up of Us, Man Utd, Chelsea and L’Pool, but the problem was that we dropped points in games agains clubs below 5th. That was why we lost the league.
    I think its a step too far for Derby, although, that being said, Chelsea lost against a non premier league team, so Derby could replicate that. We did the double over Man last year, why not now?

  17. Points will be dropped by the top three against smaller sides as well as each other – of that I am sure. Teams like Everton and Villa definitely have a chance to ruin some teams day and given the overall respect that a lot of the players in other clubs seem to have for the way Arsenal play I hope it is against United and Chelsea. Heh heh.

    Fingers crossed Aussie Timmy Cahill can do a few favours for the Aussie Arsenal supporters. 😉

  18. Hye RVP, you’re right. The teams like Everton, Villa are fighting for European football next season as well as teams from bottom are fighting not to get relegated. Those teams are dangerous to play at the moment & this hope will favour our Arsenal team, by nicking some points from our main rivals such as Man U & Chelsea. We have done double over Man U last season, why not, atleast beat them at Old Trafford this time around & then do a double over Chelsea as well to bring the Barclays Premier League to the Emirates.


  19. i prefer to create unrest for u guys… hehehehe..
    i bet u wont beat us this season, i have strong feeling.

    Dude, Birmingham draw 2 times with u this season.. anything can happen..

    cant wait for Saturday….

  20. I think “The Red Hot Gunners” a.k.a. Arsenal Fc, will beat M’borough 3-0 at the Emirates this weekend.

  21. thanks GOONER4LIFE for the positive comments, fellow gooners, dont write the team off so soon, we WILL win the league this year because we deserve it more than any other team, we WILL beat united and chavski. I will see ya all at the parade…. have some faith

  22. Dino, you are right. Arsenal, without doubt will win the BPL 2007/2008 season’s title because we deserved it more than other teams.

    F/Y/I :
    Guyz, check this out, its from one of the newspaper :

    Top clubs on alert over ‘angry’ Henry :

    Thierry Henry has put Premier League’s top sides, including Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, on alert after showing his anger at being substituted by Barcelona.
    The former Arsenal striker was taken off by Barca manager Frank Rijkaard during Sunday’s home defeat by Villareal.

    Robert Pirez, a team-mate of Henry at the Gunners and now playing for Villareal, said he wanted to speak to his old colleague after the game but was told he had already left the Nou Camp stadium.

    And Pirez is quoted in The Sun as saying: “If I were to say that Henry was happy, I would be called a liar.

    “He was angry because he is not used to being substituted. That was something that never happened to him at Arsenal.”

    What you guyz think of this, is there any chance for him to make a comeback to the Emirates ? & what will happen if he goes to our main rivals ?

    Kindly, give your opinions.


  23. Much as I love Thierry, I sincerely hope he doesn’t return. Wenger sold him at the right time for the club and bringing him back would be bad move.

  24. Hye Spanish Fry, how you feeling today ? A friendly suggestion from me & hopes Arsene Wenger will give him a chance to end his football career here at the Emirates. By looking into his contribution for the club in the past. If, he goes to our main rivals then he could tare our defends apart. What, you think ?

  25. Rass Henry, I hate to disapoint you, but I too cant see him coming back as a player. But that doesnt stop him from moving away to L’Pool… could be something to watch for… How about Henry as a striking coach tho? (At Arsenal 🙂 )

  26. I know there’s a new article to post on but I don’t care – I want to add to this one 🙂
    I couldn’t agree with TayGoon more – Stop beating up our team, players and manager needlessly. Seriously… I don’t know why so many people are doubting Wenger, certain players or even suggesting that we need to buy up big to compete. What is all of that rubbish? Arsene knows. We no longer have Pascal Cygan in the team, so every player is either very, very good, or has the potential to be very, very good. And Arsene has never bought up big and we are the second most successful team in the league since the inception of the premier league.
    I can’t believe how bonkers some of our supporters go when a few results don’t go our way… First they all cheer and shout when we beat Milan, and then they bey for blood when we draw a few blanks in England. Seriously, have faith and stick with our team. Believe.
    With the Henry stuff – firstly, it’s from a newspaper – british or otherwise, it’s probably not the most reliable of news… Secondly, I would welcome him back with open arms. Henry is what inspired me to support Arsenal in the first place and it never seemed right to me that he play anywhere else. Even though our players have all come out and said how liberated they feel without the weight of Henry in the side, you simply can’t ignore a talent like him. It would be a very happy day for me to see him return… I would just lose faith in football altogether if he went to Liverpool or something equally awful (like the mancs…)
    I must add that I’m very happy that I was not aware of blogs dedicated to Arsenal last season and I’m rather happy about that. I don’t think I could stand to read all of the crap from the supporters who like to jump ship… I think I still would have enjoyed Spanish Fry’s articles though 😛

  27. “We no longer have Pascal Cygan in the team, so every player is either very, very good or has the potential to be very, very good.”

    Hahaha, I love it. Poor Pascal. Just on Henry, I don’t think he would ever return to England and play for anyone else. He’ll find his feet and finish his career in Spain – he’s been angry before and he’ll work it out with Rijkaard. Despite what you say, the only way I’d welcome him back would be as some part of the coaching staff, not as a player.

  28. Hye SF & RVP, a very good day to you. In regards to “King Henry’s” news. As Grant said, Henry makes me watch EPL & supports Arsenal as well. He is my idol as well as my favourite player together with the real Ronaldo of Brasil. Both of them are the best in the world as well as living legend of football for me. They are my heroes. I would love to see him making a comeback but, Arsene Wenger will never buy back players which he has sold (Wenger policy). Hope, he don’t come back to BPL again & end his career at Spain. Though, as you guyz suggested as a strikers coach at Arsenal. Thats sounds fantastic.

    Cheers. 🙂

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