Up for the Cup

November 30, 2010

Tonight we have a chance to improve our ailing home record against Wigan. It may only be the Carling Cup and I for one believe we shouldn’t be bothering but 3 wins and we have a trophy on the Shelf.

Wigan were just the type of team we were looking to draw to draw for this round – they are in poor form and play open football. With what is surely a relegation threatened season ahead of Wigan perhaps Martinez will play a weakened team thinking the CC is unlikely to be won and is a hindrance to his plans. I like Wigan and wish both Martinez (who is just the type of young manager the PL needs) good fortune, but not this evening.

Mr Wenger has already shown he is serious about the Carling this season. He will continue to make wholesale changes but with our depth of squad can afford to do so with confidence.

I expect the following:

Chesney

Hoyte  Nordveldt JD Gibbs

Nasri  Eastmond  Denilson  TR

Walcott  Bendtner

We need to give Sagna a rest and with the injury to Eboue could play Hoyte (if he isn’t on loan). Thankfully Sagna is one of our strongest players and never appears to run out of steam, so perhaps he will start.

A semi-final awaits the winners of this tie and I am fully confident of a win, but the again, I was confident this time last week prior to losing in Braga who are a much poorer team than Wigan.  Tonight we will see a reversal of that result and hopefully more.

COYRRG


We’re Better Without Cesc

November 29, 2010

If you listen to the excellent Arsenal podcast by actor and comedian Alan Davies, you will know that he regularly refers to our captain as Jesus.

And who would argue?

At times our little Spaniard does indeed seem to be the son of God (yes, that’s right – his dad really is Dennis Bergkamp).

And, at the risk of a little mild blasphemy, the similarities between our midfield Jesus and his Biblical predecessor are many.

Jesus fed the 5,000 with nothing more than five loaves and two fishes; Cesc regularly nourishes the 60,000 with nothing more than five half decent colleagues and (at least) two donkeys.

Jesus walked on water; Cesc pissed on Tottenham.

Jesus sits at the right hand of the father (Dennis); Cesc sits in the right of midfield, (with licence to roam forward when we’re in possession).

Jesus was tempted by Satan. Cesc was tempted by those satanic twunts at the Camp Nou.

But now, just like the Biblical Jesus, Cesc is experiencing a period in the wilderness: his dodgy hamstring won’t clear up; his touch has gone missing; his passing has deteriorated to its worst level since he started playing for Arsenal; his goals have dried up.

Quite frankly, right now we are a better team WITHOUT Cesc Fabregas.

I know this sounds like heresy. It even crossed my mind to attribute the opinion to someone else, then it would just sound like hearsay.

But I have to hold up my hands and admit it’s all my own.

The game at Villa Park showed how we can function perfectly well without our captain. Rosicky, Nasri, Arshavin and Wilshere are all gifted footballers with creativity to spare and they combined well on Saturday.

There was a balance to the team and, crucially, there was not a misfiring piston at the heart of our machine.

When you think about it, our squad is probably better equipped than any in the EPL to cope without its leading creative playmaker.

I don’t believe Cesc’s form has been poor because his head (or heart) is in Barcelona. It’s just that, having played all the way to the World Cup Final and missed pre-season, he has never fully found his stride.

Added to that, his niggly hamstring problem has got into his head (is that a medical first?) to the extent that he is playing in the constant expectation of pulling it again.

At times he has been excellent (Man City away) at others woeful (at home against Newcastle he misplaced 27% of his passes).

You might say that, in that case, we should keep playing him because some of his performances may turn out to be good. But then you run up against the Thierry Henry problem (mentioned by Peaches yesterday): in his later period with us TH14 was so much the superstar of the team that the other players always tried to pass to him, even when there were better options on. This was fine when he was in world-beating form, but as his powers waned it meant we became less effective.

You can see it with the current team: when Cesc is playing he is so much our talisman that they automatically try to give him the ball in the expectation that he is the one who will make something happen.

So when he’s off his game, as he has been lately, most of our play is being channelled through a lame duck.

What some of these other players need is a run of winning games without Cesc, where they learn that they can do it on their own; that Arsenal Football Club would not collapse if he left; and that we (and they) are bigger than any single player. Maybe it was no coincidence that Arshavin had his best game of the season at Villa.

At the moment Cesc is being kept out because of his hamstring, even though the club has acknowledged that the injury is something of a mystery.

Personally, I think the hamstring gave Wenger the excuse he needed to drop his captain.

I hope he keeps Cesc out of the front line for several weeks, to the point where his physical and psychological issues have been well and truly ironed out. About a month would probably allow Cesc to recover fully, so that’s he’s raring to get back in the action.

If he can come back at anything like his best, we will reap the benefits for the second half of the season and, of course, a fit and firing Cesc Fabregas is one of the very best players in all the football world.

A month on the sidelines would bring him back at Christmas. I can’t think of a better time for the second coming of the Messiah.

RockyLives


Arshavin lifts the November blues

November 28, 2010

Written by peachesgooner

It was hard to imagine that November could get any worse, with two dreadful results behind them the team took to the field for the early kick-off against a struggling Aston Villa. Cesc was not in the squad following further excacerbation of his hamstring injury on Wednesday night against Braga but Arshavin, Nasri, Song and Chamakh returned. Tomas Rosicky was the captain for the day.

The added spice for the commentators came in the form of our very own Robert Pires lining up for Villa. Bobby had been training with the Arsenal squad and expected to go to a lower league side but AW had bigged him up and Houllier had snapped him up. Was this to be another performance undone by a former Gunner? No chance.

The opening 10 minutes were as exciting as any we’ve seen so far this season. Arsenal were rampant and imperious, creating 6 really good chances. We seemed to have our shooting boots on today even though the cob-webs were preventing some clean finishing. Arshavin was playing like a man possessed or at least like the Arshavin we always hoped he would be, finding space for himself, running at players and seeing the pass to set up a shot. Chances come and go for this Arsenal team and there is always the nagging doubt that we’ll have squandered ours and the opposition will get a lucky break.

Arsenal were in total control of the first half with Villa hardly managing to get the ball out of their half of the field. With six minutes left Arshavin picked up a ball just on the half way line and set off on a run, jinked pass a couple of Villa players, found himself the space to shoot and scored. Within a minute it should have been 2-0 as Arshavin put a great ball through to Nasri who rounded the keeper but put his shot just wide of the post. A corner gave Chamakh the chance with a great header that was stopped by Freidel. Another corner swept in by Arshavin was met by Nasri who thumped it through several players and into the back of the net. 2-0 at half-time.

How many of us knew the second half was not going to be so easy?

A defensive mess up allowed Villa to score early in the second half and there we were 2-1 again and looking shaky. Another great collapse in the making ……………. not this week. The combination of Jack, Arsh and Nasri feeding Chamakh and Song putting in a great shift meant that although my heart plummeted when Villa scored I felt we were in good shape to ride a small storm. A great pass from Arshavin to Rosicky put Chamakh in to score our third but of course we had to let Villa score again before Chamakh floated a ball to Jack to head home.

Another great win on the road and we were top of the league for a couple of hours. It doesn’t disguise the fact that this could be a great team that will in all probability be undone by lapses in concentration. We flatter to deceive, we let the opposition back into games and  we undo all our own good work. But it’s only November and the season isn’t over until May.

If anyone  wants to add some player ratings I’ll tuck them on the end.


What’s with the negative vibes, man?

November 27, 2010

Feeling lucky punk? Well are you? I am, and here is why. We are a very good team who have suffered from a mixture of bad form, bad luck and bad refereeing over the past two games. Prior to that we had won two difficult away games and had discovered our fighting spirit.

Does the dire 45 mins v Spurs and the very poor performance in Braga mean we are a poor side fortunate to be in 3rd place?  I would shout a definite “No”. We still have the ability to beat anyone and we are still title contenders. Some may say (and do say) that this side is brittle, lazy, and lacking in spirit; some say we lack leaders, that the defence is a shambles,  the GK is a fool and Mr. Wenger should be reading his P45 on the bus home (are there still P45’s?). Rosicky is finished, JW is overworked, Denilson is not good enough, Nik, Diaby and Theo must be off-loaded, Squillaci is wooden, Koscielny too weak for the PL and Chamakh won’t shoot. Oh, and Clichy is too inconsistent,  Sagna can’t cross and Arshavin isn’t trying. That is without Cesc constantly thinking about Barca!!

Cobblers I say. This team is on the verge of something special. We are in the mix and with a good run can be top going into the New Year. Now I know one could counter and ask “upon what do you base your positive opinion” My main answer would be that I prefer to believe we are going to win than to lose. Plus we have seen this team destroy other sides – it is not so long since we dismantled Man City.

Our away form is good, for once better than our home record. What that shows I have no idea, we have played more difficult sides away!

Villa. We have an OK record against them at Villa Park. They are struggling to adapt to their new manager and the loss of two midfielders (Milner and Barry). The signing of Stephen Ireland looked inspired but he has yet to achieve the influence he showed at Citeh, 20 y.o. Bannan  has been on fine form and is highly rated by Villa fans. Upfront there are the usual motley crue – Heskey, Young, Carew, Agbonlahor and the new rising star Delfouneso. We should have enough to hold them, though on current defensive form we are almost sure to concede and will be looking to our attackers to create a winning platform.

Of course there is a special player in the Villa squad, one who is a particular hero of mine, a man who lit up the green fields of Highbury and many other pastures, a player who was so respected by his  colleagues that they all bowed down to him when he limped up to take his PL medal on that great day at Highbury. I hope Bobby gets some pitch time when we are 3 up with 10 minutes remaining, but unlike Eduardo doesn’t score!

The loss of Cesc for a few weeks is painful – he was just returning to some form, but Nasri has the opportunity to take his creative role. Once again, I lament the absence of Diaby, who plays well in tandem with his French midfield buddy

My team:

I would love to see van Persie start but “chocolate legs” doesn’t seem to have the confidence of his manager.

Finally, much is said about the “5 years”. If one takes out the League Cup (winners in ´94 & ´96) the last time Villa won a trophy was 29 years ago, though to be fair, it was the European Cup! Maybe it is our turn this year  ………

COYRRG

written by Big Raddy


Bendtner – Man or Mouth?

November 26, 2010

Written by CarlitoII

Nik – “Supernik” to some – Bendtner has caused a ripple in the Arsenal news pond recently by being an outspoken advocate of his own abilities. So what’s new? The man’s ambition is loftier than Peter Crouch’s adams apple and his head seems to swell up on a regular basis as if his brain suffers from an allergic reaction to reporters .

The stir seems to be caused mainly by the fact that, after claiming he would leave the club if not given more first team opportunities, he didn’t make the bench against Everton. Let’s start by analysing what the man actually said.

“I’m extremely disappointed with the lack of minutes on the field.”

Well, Nik. You were injured for the start of the season and Chamakh did a great job leading the line so you’ll have to wait your turn.

“I feel I’ve done everything right in getting back to fitness and I’m in the best shape of my life.”

Then you’ll prove it when you come on as a sub. Play well enough and you’ll be undroppable.

“I feel better than before the injury and at that point I was in the starting XI and close to fulfilling my potential.”

Wenger says that all players say this but his data tells him you need to be eased back in. Any fan can see you still have to work on your first touch!

“When I’m 100 per cent fit, I can’t accept sitting on the bench.”

Right, go on… *handing out just enough rope to hang yourself with*

“I’m 100 per cent good enough for the starting XI in Arsenal. I have the qualities and I’ve been sitting enough on the bench in my career.”

Glad you’re so full of self belief, it’s important in a striker…

“If my manager feels differently that’s fair, and he’s the one choosing the team, but then I disagree.”

Ah Nik, the rashness of youth! You disgree with the best manager Arsenal have ever had? Well ok then, um, we really missed you at Everton…

Whatever happened to letting your performances do the talking? If you’re good enough, you’ll play. Any casual observer can see that, in the main, Chamakh has a better first touch and holds the ball up better than any centre forward since Thierry.. My personal belief is that Nik feels threatened by this, and he is probably right to do so. My question to you all is: would we really miss him if he went?

I love the directness that he can bring when he comes off the bench. I love his “never give in” mentality that brought us memorable last minute goals last season. I’m also superstitious, in that I believe we need a good Scandinavian player to bring home a trophy (Limpar, Jensen, Freddy…) – ok it’s my own superstition that one, but one I cling on to! But he’s not the new TH14 is he, and until he becomes the finished article, it would behove him to keep his head down!

Post Script- I wrote this article before the Totnum game and “SuperNik” has since had his chance at Braga. I missed the game sulking but I gather there may be a few words to be said about his performance- I’ll leave that to you!


Arsenal …. Why don’t we learn from our mistakes?

November 25, 2010

Written by Rasp

I’ve had nearly a week to calm down from my anger at our ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory last Saturday. I still feel sick to the pit of my stomach, not so much because we lost, but because of the manner in which we lost.  I wasn’t going to use this post, but after Tuesday’s hopeless performance against Braga, my ‘belief’ in this team/squad has been shot to pieces. This is not a knee-jerk reaction, but the accumulation of a growing frustration over the last few years that I can no longer suppress.

Why is our system so fragile?

Saturday’s game was the perfect example. We played the beautiful controlled football for which we are admired in the first half and then fell apart as soon as they scored their second goal. I can’t believe a single fan wouldn’t sacrifice 65% possession for winning a game. Arsène talks a lot about ‘belief’ but I don’t see that these players have the belief necessary to fight back when under pressure. This is borne from past experience when we’ve capitulated. Just review the final games of last season to illustrate the point.

Against Braga, we lacked ideas, penetration and energy. Most of the players (with the exception of Djourou and Gibbs) seemed to be caricatures of themselves, exhibiting all their worst traits. The Emirates crowd have come in for fair criticism for their inability to lift the team when needed, but the plague of anxiety that spreads through the stands is generated by the players and reflected by the fans – not vice verse.

Why do we have a policy of buying small players?

Let me qualify this; I don’t only mean small only in terms of stature but also in terms of presence, personality, guts and leadership. Of course size doesn’t matter when we’re in possession of the ball and are being allowed to play our way. Our problem is when we’re not in possession. Some players still do not work hard enough to regain position, track back and defend as a team.

We have been vulnerable to set pieces for years. Every opposition manager knows it. Chris Hughton knew it when he told Joey Barton to deliver the ball onto Andy Carrol’s head at every opportunity. Would Tony Adams or Keown have allowed Kaboul the header for the winning goal on Saturday? In hindsight, it would probably have been better to play Djourou rather than Koscielny against totnum – perhaps our CB may not have been out jumped by 5ft 7in Defoe?

The spine of the team is weak. Where are the leaders on the pitch? Who grabs the team by the scruff of the neck when we need to fight back? We don’t have a winning mentality. Vermaelen stands alone in the squad as the one player who has what it takes to be a future captain; he is being sorely missed.

Why do we coach the shooting instinct out of our players?

Once again we saw a player (Chamakh) shun shooting opportunities against totnum. This can’t be a coincidence. Maybe our training regimes are so ingrained in the player’s minds that they are ‘brainwashed’ into passing when shooting is the better option? We bought Tomas Rosicky as a player with a reputation for having a fantastic shot who could find the back of the net from way outside the box – I’ve never seen him do it for Arsenal.

Perhaps we should practice our ‘clever passing triangles’ on the edge of the box and someone has to shoot every 10th pass? Fabregas was the only player seemingly prepared to let loose against Braga and his efforts were as far off the mark as is his form of late. He, not RvP or Song, should have been rested – and rested several weeks ago when it was clear that he was being hampered by what must now be considered to be a long term injury.

Why can’t we motivate the players at half time?

I knew that ‘arry would send his players out fired up for the second half; he’s done it many times. Ours emerged from the tunnel looking relaxed and unconcerned, 20 minutes later they looked scared, unsure and vulnerable. Against Braga, our players needed an ‘arry-type rocket up them, but instead they just continued in the same lame lackadaisical vein in which they had laboured through the first half. No spark. No invention. No leadership. No balls.

We accept that Arsène Wenger is not a ‘hairdryer-style’ manager, but maybe he should transmit some of the venom he wastes on water bottles in the direction of his underperforming players at half time. Just once, I’d like to see him make a substitution at half time when a player is not performing.

Why don’t we ever learn from our mistakes?

For me, this is the most damming question, and it can only be directed at the manager. What will it take to shake him from the conviction that his way of playing and this group of players will eventually prove all the doubters wrong? It’s easy to dismiss the opinions of pundits who revel in our failure, but it would appear that Arsène is becoming an increasingly isolated figure, clinging to his principles whilst all around him shrink away in recognition that ‘it’ isn’t working. It has been said repeatedly and for many years that ‘this Arsenal team’ is only a couple of players short of getting back to the very top – I believe this is still the case.

The balance to the argument.

We’ve not had the luck. The free kick that led to the penalty for totnum should not have been given. The decision to book Vela instead of awarding a nailed on penalty against Braga was incomprehensible, but in both cases our performance for the 90 minutes was not good enough. We continue to suffer from injuries to key players – but don’t most teams? The good news is the emergence of Djourou as a big strong defender who can compete with powerful strikers and Nasri as our most effective midfielder and the imminent return of Vermaelen and Ramsey.

We’re 2 points off the top of the Premiership with 24 games left to play. We’re still in the Carling Cup, the FA Cup and we can still qualify for the knockout stage of the Champions League if we beat Partizan at home or as long as Shaktar beat Braga. Second in the group is the most likely scenario – unfortunately coming second in the group cost us dear last year; had we topped the group there is a good chance we would have made it to the final.

None of this gives me cause for optimism. We play an improving Villa side on Saturday who will be fighting to keep out of the relegation zone. It will be difficult and unless we can play with some fire in our bellies and overcome our fear of defeat, we will drop points and the familiar scenario of struggling to achieve 4th place in the Premiership will become the focus of our season once again.


Tippy Tappy football to Nowhere.

November 24, 2010

Written by kelsey

Good morning (or is it????)

Last night was a totally inept display, no passion yet again, no leadership on or off the field, no confidence and quite frankly before half time I lost interest watching the team I support.

Undoubtedly we should have had a penalty, but I doubt it would have changed the game that much, or the performance. It also brings into question how on earth the fifth or was it the sixth official didn’t see Vela brought down.

We will beat the whipping boys Partizan Belgrade and finish runner up, and it says a lot that, everyone will want to draw The Arsenal for the next stage of the competition.

Wenger admitted, and not for the first time that he took a gamble with Cesc, and it back fired big time. He is clearly unfit and appeared to be quite nonchalant in his performance on the pitch. His first attempt with a free kick in a central position was literally a timid lob which hardly reached the keeper. Others were just as bad though Djourou and Gibbs did at least show a resemblance of wanting to actually play, and I must emphasize we were playing an out of form mid table Portuguese side.

My advice to Bendtner is to marry his beloved princess and retire gracefully to some remote castle in deepest Denmark.

There will be in some quarters increasingly loud chants of “Wenger Out” but it will never happen. One has to seriously question where is this ‘mental strength’ that we continually hear about, and why for the umpteenth time, we keep having players on the field who just aren’t fit. He literally is running out of excuses.

He must take the proportion of the blame and though he will argue that we made 7 changes from the Spurs game, it was if anything a worse performance, in fact was it a performance?

Yet again we make life difficult for ourselves from going from the top of the group to the embarressment of having to win the final game to qualify for the knock out stages.

The last goal summed it up for me. Our three players could not dispossess Matheus, he was too strong, determined and quick – if  it had been us scoring we would be waxing lyrical, but actually it felt like a dagger in the heart.

If ever there was a need to buy in January, it has to be NOW, and as a highest priority.


Braga to test the strength of Arsenal’s squad

November 23, 2010

Further to yesterday’s interesting discussion about squad strength we have an opportunity tonight to evaluate  Mr Wenger’s statement. For tonight the squad players travel to Portugal for a Champions League game which despite not being a win or bust fixture is contextually important, if only to sweeten what has been a difficult week.

Clichy, Van Persie, and Arshavin are not travelling, Fabregas may well be rested to help his ailing hamstring and AW could rest any of the others who have played so many games over the past two weeks. Whichever team is played we are strong. In my opinion Mr Wenger is right in his assertion that this is his strongest squad. In every position we have a quality (and almost always an International) backúp. As Kelsey pointed out, the only position in with a doubtful substitute is in goal and Chesney has all the attributes to become a fine GK.

Tonight we could play the following team and reasonably expect a positive result:

Chesney/almunia

Eboue  JD  Kos  Gibbs

Rosicky Denilson Eastmond Wilshere

Theo Bendtner

This is without the injured and likely starters of Vermaelen, Diaby and  Ramsey.

I wrote in the comments about the absence of Diaby who has become a forgotten man, In my opinion he would start ahead of Wilshere and would certainly have played against Spurs. His loss is considerable as he is developing into a fine player with pace, power, skill and developing awareness (clearly his weak point). His recent performances for France are evidence of his growing influence. I realise that he is not everyone’s cup of tea but I like him!

Braga, despite winning their previous CL game, are in a poor run of form and we know how easliy they were brushed aside at the Grove, but this is a very important game in their season (in financial terms) and Braga will be looking for revenge.

Arsenal have not won in Portugal in 5 attempts and a Braga victory would bring them level with us on 9 points. This is not a game we can afford to take lightly

My team:

Fabianski

Sagna  Squillaci  Koscileny  Gibbs

Song  Denilson  Wilshere  Rosicky

Walcott Bendtner.

Could we be creative enough without Nasri or Fabregas in the starting 11? Perhaps not.

Not much to tell you about Braga which is in the very North of Portugal, except Marie Miriam who won the 1977 Eurovision song contest was born there, and Braga has a Quidditch team!

COYRRG

Written by BigRaddy


Strongest Squad Ever? My Arse(nal)

November 22, 2010

Arsene Wenger says this current Arsenal squad is the strongest he’s ever had.

As the dust settles on Saturday’s painful and embarrassing defeat, perhaps it’s time to examine that claim.

It seems important that Arsene referred to his strongest squad, not his strongest team (even he wouldn’t expect us to swallow that Saturday’s bottlers are the best team he’s ever had).

The implication must be that he feels he has more strength in depth than ever before.

Opinion is subjective, and there’s no scientific way of measuring it, but one way of examining strength in depth is to look at the best possible second team that the Arsenal could have put out at certain points during Wenger’s reign.

In 2010/11 I see our strongest second team (assuming everyone is fit) as being this:

Almunia

Eboue   Koscielny   Djourou   Gibbs

Diaby   Wilshere   Rosicky

Walcott   Bendtner   Chamakh

In the Invincibles season of 2003/4 it would have been this:

Taylor

Hoyte   Senderos   Keown   van Bronckhorst

Parlour   Edu   Flamini   Reyes

Kanu   Wiltord

In our Double Year of 2001/2:

Wright

Luzhny   Adams   Upson   van Bronckhorst

Parlour   Grimandi   Edu   Pennant

Kanu   Wiltord

And in our first Wenger Double Year of 1997/98:

Manninger

Grimandi   Upson   Keown   McGowan

Boa Morte   Platt   Garde    Hughes

Wright   Wreh

I believe the current ‘second eleven’ would probably lose to all the others listed. They might have a fighting chance against the 1998 brigade (anyone remember Gavin McGowan?) but I suspect even an ageing Ian Wright would rip Djourou and Koscielny to shreds.

The funny thing is that the current second string probably has more technical ability than any of its predecessors, but it doesn’t have the out-and-out winning mentality of the players from previous years (the likes of Ian Wright, Keown, Parlour, Adams and Edu).

I accept that there are other possible ways of measuring squad strength (for example, if we looked into the ‘leftovers’ – players who don’t even make it into the second elevens – there would probably be more in the 2010 crop with first team experience than in previous years – the likes of Vela, Traore, Eastmond, JET and Lansbury).

However, using my method it seems clear that this is most certainly NOT the best Arsenal squad of the Wenger era.

So why would he say it is?

To understand that you need to be able to decipher Wengerspeak. When we had teams conquering all before them, making opponents feel defeated before they even stepped onto the pitch, you seldom heard Arsene talking about how great his players were or how professional or focused they were.

Instead he has a pattern of making these kind of utterances when his team is not functioning properly. It’s as if he hopes that by saying it, it will become true.

Worst of all are his constant references to our mental strength during periods when, mentally, we have all the strength of Syd Little with ‘flu.

I think he says this stuff because, although he knows the players are not mentally strong, he feels it will act as a motivator if they believe that’s what he thinks.

Well, it’s not working. This current first team has perfected the art of collapsing with all the speed and finality of a cheap Caribbean beach shack in a hurricane.

Saturday’s effort harked back to Wigan away last year, the 4-4 against the Spuds at The Grove a couple of years ago and to our habitual inferiority-complex-ridden displays against Chelsea and Man Utd. At this rate I can see the Spuds joining the ‘big two’ as a team against whom we start feeling we can’t win.

Jermaine Jenas said that when the Bale goal went in the Spud players sensed they could win – and that the Arsenal players sensed they could lose. I’m sure most of us watching felt the same anxiety.

What’s to be done?

Frankly, I don’t have much idea. Arsene must know that he has a team of bottlers, a team incapable of stepping up when the pressure is really on, a team that needs a three goal cushion before it can remotely begin to feel secure. I’m sure he has attempted to tackle the psychological issues that are holding his squad back, but whatever he has done has failed.

Maybe it will take a trophy. The Carling Cup is by far the most realistic prospect for us this year, but if we reach the final I suspect there’s every chance we will choke on the big day, regardless of who we’re playing. It’s what this group of players has learnt to do.

For a mostly foreign team, they have a strangely British quality to them: gallant losers all.

I don’t want Wenger out, but I am slowly coming round to the view held by some that if this talented group of players is to ever make that final step up, we need to buy in two or three proven winners at the very top of their games: a new centre back, a new defensive midfielder and possibly even a world class striker. And in an ideal world they will all be players who bang heads together in the dressing room when their colleagues are not pulling their weight.

I know this is not Championship Manager; money isn’t the solution to everything; and who’s to say the right players are available anyway?

But somehow, from somewhere, we need a massive injection of the winning mentality into the club we love or last weekend’s heartbreak is going to become an all too familiar feeling.

RockyLives


Redknapp outthinks Wenger …… fact.

November 21, 2010

Written  by kelsey

Having digested the result and read many comments I am left thinking how we lost a game that at half time was literally in the bag and though not at our most fluent we had surpringly  nullified a much hyped up Spurs outfit. Beforehand, I thought  that if we contained Bale and Van der Vaart we should have no trouble in beating Spurs, though much improved, but always likely to concede.

The game plan worked a treat and an early goal from Nasri after yet another howler from Gomes and then a poachers goal from Chamakh after a clever cross from Arshavin just after half an hour, I was foolishly mislead that this could be a huge embarrassment for the tiny tots. How wrong could one be.

We squandered several more chances in that first half and someone needs to tell Chamakh that as he is a striker, a direct shot at goal wouldn’t go amiss. Over 45 minutes it was a team effort and no one had an outstanding game, but as a unit we performed well.

At that moment of time we were top of the league and we waited to see with the Champions league games coming up within a few days, if either manager would be bold enough to make changes or in Arsenal’s case go for the jugular and in Redknapp’s case, alter his game plan,which he did with the introduction of Defoe .

A two goal lead counts for nothing these days, especially with the Arsenal, and I had this gut feeling  that whoever was on the pitch it would need a third goal to finally kill off the Spurs.

Should a title chasing side be in that position ?The answer is an emphatic NO.

Spurs took control more or less from the resumption of play and remember we had the same players on the pitch that had easily contained them in the first half. The second half became a horror show, and Bale walked through the defence to score. Fabregas gave away a stupid penalty and the inevitable happened with Kaboul scoring the winner with minutes left.

It was, not for the first time this season, unbearable to watch, and yet again we got caught on set pieces. There was no leadership on the field, no motivation to press on after half time and the players and the manager must look at themselves this morning and many , many questions need to be asked.

Three home defeats in seven matches is just not acceptable and don’t kid yourselves that we are still in the mix as this is the first time in twelve years that the current leaders have obtained so few points.I don’t care about United,Spurs or Chelsea, I expect my team to perform every time they take the field.

This team has one or two great players, and an abundance of squad players and fewer injuries than at any time for a considerable period, and though all is not lost,  a major overhaul is needed if we are to progress this season. Beforehand I had my doubts,but now they are being slowly confirmed.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 422 other followers