Nov 012008

What a miserable day. Chelsea win at a canter, United show us how to hold on to a 4-3 lead in the dying seconds, and we lose to Stoke, without any fight to speak of. And to think with five minutes to go on Wednesday night, things were beginning to look quite rosy.

Now, I should say at this point that I’m an optimist to the last. If there are mathematical possibilities of success, I convince myself they can happen, and even if there are seconds left in a game, it is always enough time to retrieve any situation. Even today, playing with nine men, and looking about as threatening as a kitten, I was sure we could at least grab a draw in the dying seconds.

But even as a persistent optimist, I have to admit we’re not in the title hunt this season. We may shortly be nine points off the pace after eleven games in which the best side we’ve played has been Everton. The eight teams we are yet to face include United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Villa, and Man City, and the only side outside the top half we haven’t played are a dangerous Wigan. After the friendly start to the season we’ve had, we should be in the same position as this time last year.

But we’re not, and the complete lack of anything positive from today’s game tells us that we’re just not good enough at the moment. Once again, we had four central midfielders and no wingers, and while the future might be wonderfully bright (and it is), the present feels a bit gloomy. We can still challenge for honours, but the Premiership won’t be one of them. Too many flat performances have already seen to that, because if you’re trying to claim that you can still compete ‘as long as you beat the big four in all six clashes’, and it’s only November 1, you’re in trouble.

And Wenger isn’t stupid enough not to realise it. The fact that so many midfielders came out after the end of the transfer window, claiming that Arsenal tried to sign them, tells you that Wenger knows where the weaknesses are, he just wasn’t able to correct them in time. Of course some of those claims will be agent fuelled, but there is rarely smoke without fire and surely even Wenger would admit that we’re short in that department, certainly when we talk about the here and now, rather than the potential.

Perhaps the admission of another transitional season will allow some of the incredibly talented kids to get even more experience than expected this season, and maybe in the long run that will be rewarded. But right now, it really is painful.

Even the season’s bright sparks are struggling. Cesc looks exhausted, unsurprising given the ridiculous pressure on him (surely burnout is a real danger?), and Walcott now looks badly injured.

Don’t worry, I’ll be positive in a couple of days, probably because attention will turn to the Champions League, and we’re doing fine there, but even my usual optimism won’t be convincing me we’re in the title hunt. Because we aren’t. And that isn’t something I say lightly.

I will say one more thing, and that’s to all the 606 callers who now want Wenger out. Let’s make this clear – we would not be as big a club without him, and like many things in life, we probably won’t realise how good he is until he’s gone. I for one am hoping that day is a long way away, because with him in charge I can at least be optimistic about the future.

  7 Responses to “The optimist’s view – I’m struggling”

  1. […] few hours later, the optimism is back November 1, 2008 9:19 pm Pete Arsenal News I promised earlier that at some point, the optimism would return, and as it turned out, it only took a few hours. Spurs […]

  2. Arsenal is NO mre the force it used to, I now have to admit with a lot of pain.

  3. We could have won today. But we needed four or five new players first.

  4. I am pleased Ade is injured. This guy is a complete sack of shit and the sooner he fucks off from our club the better. What I wonder is, if our scouting network is so great then how come we ended getting lumped with this donkey when Wigan manage to get a player like Amir Zaki. I also can’t help but wonder if Zaki were to play for us then we’d be looking at a 30 goal a season striker. I would like us to sell Ade in January and if teams are willing to pay the high prices dished around in summer for him then from his sale we could finance the purchase of Zaki and Yaya Toure. I feel it’s these two players that we need to complete our team.

    Our centre back problem could be solved if Wenger starts to play Johan Djourou alongside either Kolo, Gallas or Silvestre depending on who is fit and playing well. Our best pairing so far has been Gallas and Djourou so why is this not tried? Also, why is Kolo thrust back into the team as soon as he is able to walk unaided. I also, wish we could sell Gallas. The sooner this idiot fucks off the better. Our defence has been nothing but a complete shambles ever since he moved to us from Chelsea, world class my ass.

    And, why does no self-respecting gooner recognize that the number one reason we are playing shit and creating nothing is because Fabregas is playing shit. Can’t pass, can’t keep the ball, loses possession too easily, doesn’t track back, can’t score to save his life, amongst a whole lot of other things. What has happened to our little Spanish maestro? Does he have some sort of niggling injury that we don’t know about or is he looking to leave and can’t be bothered any more coz that’s what it looks like, you can practically see it in his face. To be the world’s best in midfield he can’t be a soft touch and must toughen up if we are to proclaim that he is better than say Gerrard, Scholes or even Lampard who are much more battle hardened.

    Denilson has been a gem for us this season. I think that he started off the season with the intention of protecting the back four but he has been our creative source and making up for Fabregas poor form. Do know for instance that he has so far bettered Fabregas in every way according to the stats, including successful passes! I know I couldn’t believe it either but it’s true and based on this I would much rather see Fabregas being dropped and a midfield combination of Denilson and Diaby being tried. These two combined can give us a more solid yet still creative midfield. Some may argue that we will be missing the vision and sublime passing our our Spaniard but based on current form I doubt we’ll much at all.

    Seeing as currently we have no Ade (injured), Van Persie (suspended), Walcott (injured), Toure (injured), Gallas (mystery illness again), Sagna (injured, though I don’t know how badly) and of course the walking dead in Edu (get well soon) and Rosicky (hurry up and get fit you little fucker), I can’t see any other option for the manager but to play as follows:


    Vela Diaby Denilson Nasri


    Clichy Djourou Silvestre Eboue

    If we can scrape away with a draw then I’d be well chuffed considering our lack of personnel and the fact that United have pretty much a fully fit squad to choose from. Although the manager is convinced of Vela’s, Dudu like abilities in the box, I would much rather see the young Mexican play on the left wing where I feel he is more comfortable at the moment (I made a habit of following him whilst he was playing in Spain) and the guys pace could be as terrifying for defences as Walcott’s is.

    If on the off chance that monsieur Wenger is reading this blog then please take note of what I am saying because you know that I am right, so make the moves that we are all calling for in January.

    1.) Sell Ade
    2.) Buy Zaki at all costs and Yaya Toure or if failing him someone like Lorik Cana but please no more midgets. We are fast becoming a team of talented but soft little faggots.
    3.) A tall, pacy, relatively young but experienced no nonsense centreback wouldn’t hurt either.

  5. Jav, agreed except the part about denilson – no, the entire midfield needs to be reworked. The epl is a rough and tough league we can’t have cesc, fab and walcott and nasri in the same midfield and win in the epl – it’s not even boys vs men it’s ladies vs warriors, we need a whole new midfield, new captain and to get to that probably a new manager, which won’t happen soon so I guess we’re just going to have to settle for being a shit squad for a while.

  6. Throw the youth masterplan into the shitter and start over, get back to the basics.

  7. Jav, that strikes me as an overreaction on a few players.

    You say Zaki could be a 30 goal striker, well Ade is one, as he proved last season. Of course he splits the fans, but in a world where we complain about a lack of depth and physical strength in the squad, why would we want to sell him and replace with Zaki?

    If Ade were at Wigan, you’d rate him. It’s a bit like Santa Cruz.

    As for Cesc, I don’t think he can be criticised – he isn’t in top form but he is still being creative, and you have to remember that he is far too young to have the level of burden he has. He had a long summer with Spain, he came back short of match practice, was thrown straight back into the side and as a result now looks completely knackered. Not his fault, but again that lack of depth.

    On the defence though, I agree. Toure returns too quickly when he isn’t sharp enough after injury, Gallas has just been poor, but I’m not convinced by Djourou either. That is one place I really think we need new blood.

    A big centre back and a big holding midfielder is all we need. I actually think we’re fine up front.

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