Jan 152012

Swansea 3 (Sinclair pen 16, Dyer 57, Graham 70) Arsenal 2 (Van Persie 5, Walcott 69)

Two weeks ago, the Arsenal fanbase was pretty content. A win over QPR had lifted us back amongst the top four at the turn of the year, a remarkable turnaround given the position we were in after seven games. At the time, the mental strength was being praised (by all and sundry, not just Wenger), and our chances of retaining a Champions League spot, the primary target after that nightmare August, seemed promising.

Just two games later, the vitriol is back. In the topsy turvy world of football support, particularly on the internet, a team has to be brilliant or terrible, a player either a world beater (or one in the making) or worthy of a public flogging. The manager is either a genius or ripe for the axe. There is no grey, no middle ground, nothing other than the dramatic. Because, after all, the dramatic sells newspapers, gets hits, and provides a satisfying point to a rant in the moments after a disappointing result.

So before getting to the rational, allow me to indulge in the black and white. We were pretty crap today, more so in the second half than the first. In the opening forty-five, I thought us adequate but unspectacular, with Swansea’s excellence being the reason for our difficulties, rather than any lack of application or quality of our own. At half time, I hoped our opponents would fail to maintain their terrific play, but they continued for the full ninety, while our level dropped. The more we pushed forward, the better they defended, and the more they opened us up at the back. Swansea fully deserved their three points today, and it was refreshing to see an opponent approach the game in a free flowing way – no cards were shown throughout, although you could argue that losing that sort of game is a bad sign for us.

Moving on.

Since the full time whistle, the analysis has been strong and vicious. Particular players have had their every trait dissected and criticised, leading to the inevitable conclusion of ‘crap, lazy, overpaid, sell him‘, usually interspersed with at least three words we should always reserve for the opposition. And the end result is always the same – we need to buy X, Y and Z, we need to strengthen in this position, that position. And for me, that is overly simplistic.

We have been educated, largely by the paid press, that transfers are the silver bullet to all problems. Don’t like a player? Sign a replacement. Got a gap in a position? Don’t even think about promoting from within, or altering your formation, buy buy buy. That the media have promoted this is hardly surprising – ‘Arsenal seek to sign £20m replacement for misfiring Arshavin‘ sells far more copies than any attempts to better accommodate players, tactical changes to enhance their effectiveness, or even the player themselves simply improving. And so it is transfers we always read about, from the fanciful to the daft, and the myth that the chequebook is always the way to go is perpetuated.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you need to buy. Our transfer activity on the final day of August showed that – we obtained the big centre back we needed, to give experience to the back four and keep Squillaci one further step away from appearing, and Arteta’s influence in central midfield cannot be overstated. As for Andre Santos, we’ve missed him greatly despite his short time at the club. Signings can be a great fillip. But they are not the only way.

Take a look at our squad, and count the players that fall into the following criteria : Talented, underachieving. My bet is you’ve named at least three, perhaps more. Given that we have that talent at our disposal, it is not more prudent to focus on getting full value from them, above and beyond bringing in new blood? To all those who keep saying we need to spend thirty, forty, fifty million, I’d counter that if we already have superb players at our club who aren’t performing, is it not a possibility that our problems run a little deeper, and simply adding more of those players may not help?

To give some examples, I’ll pick some names out, starting with the obvious – Andrei Arshavin. He was sixth in the World Player of the Year awards the year before we signed him, and he is often credited with getting us into fourth that season. He has given us unforgettable memories and is clearly a sparkling jewel of a talent. I would go as far as to say that buying a player with a greater level of raw talent would be exceptionally difficult, so if there were any way of getting him back to his best, I’d certainly favour that over buying another. For the record, I think he will leave in the summer, and unlike many, I will be sorry to see him go.

Then there is Chamakh. I recently watched a few of his games from early last season, and was staggered by the contrast with his more recent performances. He was bustling around, powering past defenders and making intelligent runs, and looked a completely different player. Again, this is not a ‘crap’ player as many opine – go watch those games if you want the empirical evidence. But the Chamakh we see now is a shadow of that. If we could get him back to his best, we would again have a player on our hands.

I could go on – we’ve seen Djourou, Diaby and many others show their talent, and at their best they are a force to be reckoned with. But for one reason or another (injury, form, confidence) they are not regular top level contributors. Perhaps they never will be, but before pressing for replacements I would want to know that those potential quality signings would not fall into the same category. We all saw Chamakh for Bordeaux and in his first few months for us – surely the last thing we need is to sign another player of high quality who drops his level enormously a few months later?

Consistency is the key, and consistency is not purely down to the sheer quality of an individual. It is a mental attribute, cultivated over a career. Some players have a headstart on others, so on one hand you could say transfers can help (compare Szczesny to Fabianski for an obvious comparison of mental fortitude), but I have to admit a concern that this Arsenal squad consumes players who previously showed a strong mentality, and weakens them. It is, perhaps, our biggest problem, and one I think needs addressing more urgently than any other.

Put it this way – if we jettison players ruthlessly, replacing them at the drop of a hat, then we are doomed to fail, frankly. Aside from the fact that transfers are expensive – with the agents involved I’d compare it to moving house regularly, where all your money is lost in taxes and fees – we would be competing with clubs far richer than us, on their terms. Chopping and changing is what Chelsea have done since Abramovich arrived – remember Tiago, Crespo, Veron, Shevchenko, Duff, Robben, Del Horno? Lots of quality, all ludicrously expensive, but for one reason or another their Chelsea careers stalled and they were moved on. Chelsea could afford that approach, and the resultant losses, we cannot.

So we cultivate, and that means showing more faith in players than many would. Sometimes, as with Alex Song, it pays off, and sometimes it doesn’t (hello, Aliadiere). But as fans, it means we have a responsibility to show patience too. Take Theo Walcott – a 22 year old still learning his game. Yes, he is fairly experienced now, but he is still 22 years old. How many players of that age have scored 35 goals for their club without playing up front? Or even gained as many assists?

Theo is the classic example of a player built up too soon, raising expectations to a level he could not possibly reach. And then, when he inevitably fails to hit those dizzy heights, he is vilified, destroyed by the press and by fans, and written off. I’ll tell you what I see – an immensely talented young footballer who has improved each year (his stats back this up) and has the mentality to perform on the big occasion. He scored his first goal for Arsenal against Chelsea, in a cup final. He scored again in a win against them last season, and again in the 5-3 triumph at Stamford Bridge. He thrives in the Champions League, inspiring our comeback against Barcelona two years ago – in fact, in the build up to last year’s tie, he was the talk of the Catalan press, not Cesc. It was Theo that was worrying them. And a hattrick for England in Croatia wasn’t half bad either.

Just to be clear – this is a player that a lot of fans want replaced and/or shipped out. Yes, he has facets of his game to improve, and at his age he should. But he seems down to earth, his game is improving, and he is already way beyond most at his age. Why on earth do people want him gone?

I can see the beginnings of the same pattern with Oxlade-Chamberlain. He should be nothing more than a peripheral player for the next two or three years – anything more and he is doing exceptionally well. But I am willing to bet that he will be criticised before the end of this season for a lack of end product, despite his tender age. And we are the ones creating these ridiculous expectations by building a player up to mythical proportions, and calling on his inclusion into the first team far too soon. Can you see where this is going?

So how does this all relate to today’s game? It means we need to lay off Walcott, Ramsey, Miquel and others – players who are young, working hard and showing immense promise. Enough vilification, enough vitriol, enough hate. It helps no-one. There are areas of the squad we need to improve, positions we do need reinforcements, but we have to set more realistic expectations of the ones we have, and stop destroying them when they fail to meet them. As long as they put everything into it, I will have no complaints, and nor should you.

Save your anger for the lazy ones.

Today was a bad day. We were poor, and Swansea fully exploited that with a superb performance. But much as we weren’t going to win the league two weeks ago, we don’t need a complete overhaul now.

Find the unspectacular middle ground. It is where the truth lies.

  56 Responses to “Swansea 3-2 Arsenal: It isn’t as simple as just buying different players”

  1. Well done. My thoughts almost exactly.

  2. Wenger is only there for the money !!! He have mismanaged the team for 5 or 6 seasons and there is no going back every soft defeat after soft defeat just underlines that he cant motivate them and they actually play some awful incoherent football.Today every second or third pass went straight to a Swansea player and that is from highly fine tuned players,it simply isnt good enough it is actually appalling.But Wenger have brought this upon himself,refusing to teach his players new tricks and seriously no one can suggest to me that he teaches them to defend as a unit.And to suggset that there is no money for transfers when he pockets and odd 7 mil a year is just makinf a complete fool out of the fans.

    • Wenger loves Arsenal as much as you and me, make no mistake.

    • You spuds loving b***d…A loss and you come out from the cave that you were hiding!!

    • You can accuse Wenger of many things. Not caring about Arsenal like a fan is surely not one of them.

      • Wenger’s wages, which are astronomical, and his unwillingness to spend on what’s needed demonstrates of gross lack of caring and makes him quite the hypocrite. Add to that, he is just no longer a manager capable of winning anything, he no longer can be considered good enough for the Arsenal, like many of his players. His ‘cheap’ philosophy has died.

  3. I cannot agree more. We were beaten today by a team playing football and cannot complain. We also were very exposed for the lack of natural full backs as Swansea have two of the best and most elusive wingers in the EPL. Castigating players when the collective is not functioning well is self defeating and will not gain the team. Mistakes are made by all players and teams at times and sometimes the team/player get away with it and when they do and possibly win the “critics” are happy because they have “succeeded! This Arsenal side is probably where one would expect to find it at present taking into account all the injuries but one would hope that they can turn the corner soon when some of the players return.

    • You’re right on the full back issue – not only did we miss them defensively but offensively – usually when the likes of Sagna play, they feature level with the midfield when we have the ball. Without full backs pushing forward, we get outnumbering in the centre.

  4. Fantastic article. Well-balanced and very wise thinking. You’ve cured my
    low mood with an entirely accurate analysis!

    • Agreed and like the opinion. Perhaps I’ve found my voice of reason in Arsenal storm…heaven knows i’m not capable of reason myself. Well don’t.

  5. Hmmm…sounds like another argument for moving the chairs around on a sinking ship. Arguments that a clean sweep out with a big broom is needed are gaining strength. 4th or possibly 3rd place are the best we can hope for this season and thats the goal (again). That’s still very achievable but if we are still in 5th place after 34 games then we can really panic!

  6. Dude — get a grip. When was the last game we played with a recognized right or left back? That is not acceptable. And the fact that you haven’t mentioned that makes you part of the problem. We are a big club. It’s January. There is no fucking excuse.

    • I’m part of the problem because I don’t mention full backs? Odd conclusion.

      I don’t mention full backs because teams are limited to a 25 man squad, within which we have four full backs, the same as any other club. They are currently all injured, and that is supremely unlucky.

      Do you suggest we purchase more? In which case, who do we drop from the squad (thinning their position)? And how do you convince a right back to sign when they know they won’t play as soon as Sagna and co are back?

  7. Nonsense. All these payers will do is waste more time and money proving what many know already; they are simply not good enough. Wenger has lost his ability to buy quality when he does spend and seems to struggle to inspire and improve players like he did before.

    Arsenal are in freefall. When RvP leaves in the summer they will be a mid-table side.

    • Not buying the argument that Wenger has lost the ability to buy quality. We can quibble about the number of signings he makes, but in the last few years can you argue with Vermaelen, Arteta, Koscielny and others? Every manager is hit and miss, but to say he no longer buys decent players is just not true.

  8. Refreshing and totally spot on. Two weeks ago we were going into the CL, now it´s “Ramsey (or Arshavin, or whatever) is shite” and “Wenger out”. The mentality of a 21st century internet football fan is beyond me.

    • Agreed. Arshavin I can understand to an extent, because he hasn’t shown his best in a long time, but Ramsey getting criticised is baffling. He never hides, he always fights his hardest, and he is still young, having come back from a horrendous injury. What godlike level do people demand?

  9. well said.

  10. I really disagree with your analysis. Sure, there are examples, important ones, where promoting from within has paid dividends. Take our goalie for example. But lets not forget, that it was precisely this attitude of waiting-an-excruciatingly-long-period-of-time for a player to finally, ultimately, come good, that we lost how many umpteen million points from hapless Almunia. I think we simply need to be more ruthless with under performing players. Not going overboard, but we cant have a situation where players are a liability.

    You are right about good players going through patches of form. At what time do we say this form is either permanent or it will be too costly to live through it? I dont think it holds to say: good players come here and ‘catch’ bad form, like it were a cold. the players make the mentality of the team, together with the coaching staff. Can you imagine Vieira going throught this period of mental fragility?

    • I agree that the goalkeeping situation was badly mismanaged for at least 18 months. No argument there.

      The trouble is – if we jettison players as early as other clubs do, we’re playing their game, but with less financial muscle. I can see what we’re trying to do with the cultivation approach, and while some will benefit from it, others will be kept on longer than they should. It is a fine balance to tread.

  11. The sad truth is that these are the ‘easy’ games we are losing, the tough ones are yet to come! We have too many players who for whatever reason are simply not delivering or not consistent enough: Chamakh, Arshavin, Djourou, Rosicky, Gibbs, Walcott, Park, Squillaci, Diaby. The clearout that started last summer has to continue next summer, still too much dross in the team and that is pratically half the squad!. I will still get behind the lads but the rational part of my brain believes top 4 is not going to happen this season. The season of 3 steps forward, two steps back continues. Oh and Wenger looks increasingly like aman without answers these days. Anyhow, get behind the team and hope for the best, looks bleak but you never know.

  12. Yeah well said.
    Wenger should stay
    His transfers are spot on , hus tactics flawless and it really is always the ref’s fault.


  13. I agree with you, however, he has mismanaged this team to such an extent that he had to “panic” buy so many players at the start of the season and we have watched Arsenal lose these type of games with increasing regularity over the last few seasons. People are at that point where the “last straw is breaking the camel’s back”.

    The last 2 games have once again exposed our squad’s shortcomings, shortcomings that have been exposed relentlessly over and over again over the course of the last 4 – 5 years. Shortcomings that most, other than Arsene, seems able to see. From aiming for the title each year and settling for a CL spot we have set attaining CL status as the holy grail-maybe we’ll settle for a Europa League spot this year. Next year it’ll be just trying to finish above Spurs.

    If it ain’t about buying better players then it has to be with coaching, either way Arsene is at the root of all the problems we have because he’s the only one making the key decisions really.

    Okay, we got a stadium, wonderful and our future is secure-just great. But Arsenal can no longer attract the top players in the world because we don’t compete for trophies-we don;t even play good football anymore-we were outplayed by a Championship team!!

    You hope to see progress but it has been nothing but a backward regression since 2004. Unbelievable really and the deer in the headlights (AW) won’t do the necessary things to get us back to where we would like (and he would like I am assuming) the club to be.

    • It is obvious that Wenger has run out of ideas. Your analysis mentions there is a deeper problem, well there has been a cancer in the last few years and I think eventually people need to start connecting the dots. Personally I felt Wenger lost his good judgement somewhere in 2006/7 and departed from his own set of basics and moved on to his “project”. The fact is that Wenger wastes more money that all managers excluding Chelsea and Man C. How many years does Wenger need to realise that Gibbs and Diaby will never stay fit. In fact we almost did not buy Santos ?? Also to expect Jenkinson to adjust to EPL and be the only backup ? Wenger has created his fullback problems, its not bad luck. RVP goals have covered our shortcommings. We need to stop kicking the can further down the road and appoint a manager that can bring success to AFC within our financial structure. It is not an easy situation to remedy but when Wenger extended his contract two or three years ago my heart sank as I suspected there and then Arsenal had just removed itself from being in the top drawer of the EPL. Yes he does much good but he does too much wrong to be a EPL winner. He also lacks humility and that is dangerous. He needs to go, it is so obvious.

      • Disagree strongly that Wenger ‘wastes’ more money than all but Chelsea and Man City. He makes more of a profit than practically every club, the usual complaint is that he DOESN’T then spend that money.

        As far as I can see, Wenger adopted a new strategy in the summer, and even before that. Players started to return, experienced players were brought in, and our play this season has been more pragmatic and less indulgent. I’m keen to see where it goes, to be honest.

        • Foolish and naive. We have spent 600 million quid on a team that is only getting worse and moving further away from winning anything! That is wasteful indeed compared to any club paying equivalent wages who are actually winning things.

          I believe we are paying these insanely high wages so that more players won’t just leave this ‘failed project’ and wenger would then be forced to acknowledge it. 80K a week for theo’s new contract? The boy isn’t worth half that. Neither is diaby, and many others. Waste.

  14. “we loss under normal circumstancy” does it mean swansea did not take all three point? Somebody pls tell me.

  15. Sorry totally disagree with most of what you say. The current Arsenal squad is very average and that is totally down to Wenger. The likes of Arshavin and Chamakh have no desire or passion for the club they are only interested in their huge salary. A loss of form does not last over a year it is just can’t be asked. Both have got to go. Mertseker has been another disappointment how he has over 70 caps god knows. Benayoun a joke signing a has been discarded by Liverpool and Chelsea. Arteta no more than a good squad player, Gervinho has the odd 10 minutes in a game but not good enough. AOC does look the real deal the player Walcott won’t be run forest run. Park what is that another Inamoto. As for Ramsey agree he will be good but not yet first team standard. Song I just think this is one overrated player his passing most of the time is abysmal he hits the odd good one and everyone is in awe of him would be happy to see him as just a squad back up that’s all hes worth. At the end of day out of our squad what players honestly would get in City Utd Spurs Chelsea and even Liverpool teams? I reckon Vermaelen Wilshire and RVP how sad is that 3 players that would get in Spurs team. How in a short time we have declined so much. Time to go Arsene

    • Wow.

      That comment started well, I was with you on the baffling lack of form that Arshavin and Chamakh have shown. But then it got a bit surreal.

      Arteta ‘just a squad player’? Song ‘overrated’? Ramsey not yet first team standard? Crikey.

      Precisely the kind of unrealistic and unattainable standards my post was all about.

      • Um, Pete you comments about ‘standards’ – you must be confused – this is not Fulham, this is the Arsenal.

  16. I’m sorry but as far as the title is concerned it IS as simple as buying new players. Your first statement is that most fans were content after the QPR result when in fact most were still mulling the home draw against Wolves.

    The past few weeks have shown us something very clearly, the squad is not good enough. Not for the top four and certainly not for the title. We have too many players that are consistently poor, Rosicky hasn’t been the same since the injuries. Ramsey has been on the decline for the last few weeks, trying flash tricks and flicks when he can barely play a straight pass. Chamakh drags himself out into the channels when he should be in the penalty area, attacking the opponent. Walcott has never shown anything like the “potential” he has supposedly had since he was 16. Diaby defines “injury prone”, Gibbs likewise. Add to that we’ve shipped out several players on loan or into the reserves squad that have been useless time after time – nevermind the temporary fullback situation, we need half a new squad.

    The thing that annoys me more than anything is the simplicity of it, yes people always sit here and say “Oh sign Podolski” we need a defender “get Vertonghen” which are usually players that aren’t actually available. But, there were several quality players available in the last summer window alone. Gary Cahill, Scott Parker, Demba Ba, Cabaye, Juan Mata, Pablo Piatti, Alexis Sanchez, Sergio Aguero and Scott Dann to name a few.

    It’s not as if the money isn’t there either (as far as we know), we’re told every transfer window that there are funds to strengthen (to later be told ‘there were no players of quality available’) add in the fact that we sold over £50m worth of talent this summer and I’d say we had a sizeable budget.

    Long story cut short, our squad is weak. We need more talent and depth. Wenger IN, there’s no question that we would regret it if we ever did get rid of him. But the squad needs refreshing.

    • Agree with much you say. The thing is, many of the players we signed ALWAYS had patchy form. Ask any german how Rosicky played for Dortmund, how Arshavin played previously (cant believe how one-eyed some can be over a tournament performance). Both have amazing talents – almost everyone at Arsenal does — but “capacity” doesnt win matches. Podolski is exactly the same: this is the first time in his career he has been on good form at a club, and it is Koln, his home team and a mid-table club. Signing him would be a real gamble.

      Gibbs doesn’t cut it, but I think it is a little early to judge Benayoun. Djourou/Squillaci… I mean which other top club would be happy to have them in the side?

    • The trouble with your list of signings we ‘missed out on’ is that we either couldn’t get them, or they aren’t good enough.

      Cahill, Parker and Dann fall into the ‘not good enough’ category for me, Sanchez went to Barcelona for huge money, Aguero for City for ridiculous money, and Chelsea outbidded us for Mata. All unattainable.

      As for the assertion that Walcott has never shown anything of his potential, have a look at his stats. 35 goals. 10 goals in the Champions League. Scared the bejesus out of Barcelona, which is no mean feat. I think he is the classic example of people being disappointed because they expected something unrealistic.

      • Pete, I think you are level-headed and mostly correct. I think what’s pissing me off is Wenger’s apparent unwillingness to take chances. I agree that merely opening up the wallet and forking over money may not cure all ills, but like investing, where a portfolio needs to be diverse, so too should a team’s approach to building. It seems like Arsenal favors low risk, low or tepid reward ($$$) signings. While those signings should be made, aren’t there a couple of players out there (Podolski, Hazard et al) that are somewhat worth the risk? Replacing a departing player with a new player is even less of a risk, especially if it is Chamak or Arshavin that have high salaries. Spending tons if irresponsible, but being a tight-wad is also irresponsible. I also agree that having a revolving door for players makes a squad restless and not able to concentrate on playing, but picking and choosing timely upgrades is something Arsenal seems incapable of. I know for every player available there are several teams in several countries vying for their services and that makes things difficult, but I seem to remember some players actually saying they want to play for Arsenal, Arsenal isn’t in MLS, they are one of the most respected and storied clubs in the world and they should act like it. By the way, well done.

  17. Yo it is time 4 AW why it seem that he is contend to be in the top 4 what is that we are a WORLD-CLASS team not any middle class team we should fighting 4 first there is no confidence in store 4 the players they just dont want to be the best they need a ‘tony adam’ captain to screw them up

  18. In 2004 we were the invincibles. Have we built on that success? I think you all know the answer. Something is wrong at at Arsenal. When I started supporting Arsenal (at 7 years old) we had won more titles than any other team. Since then, Liverpool and Man U have overtaken us by some way. we look like a club in decline. I am resigned to mid table midrecroitrity while Spurs take our place as the title challengers. Spurs will be in the Champions league next year, maybe even as champions, and we are going to struggle to get into the europa league. That shows how far we have dropped behind. I dont blame wenger. I blame the board, they wont let the money go. Ask youself how much we got for players at the end of the 2011 season and how much we spent replacing them. we got over £50m for fab and nas and all told got over £75 m. we spent 35? We have great supporters and they are being f***ked over by the club.

    • Exactly… And the big difference between spurs and us? They kept their top players and we lost every single one of ours…

  19. I got a chance to watch the Arsenal reseves v Aston Villa reserves on YouTube and nothing I saw suggested that we have back up for the Premier League at present, which means we have to buy some key players. Before I`m accussed of being part of the `buy-buy-buy` brigade let me just say we have a few top drawer players, a few average players and some that need to move on. Moving them on is not that simple and their salaries have become a real problem, no club can afford them and certainly the clubs that might be interested in the Championship League or lower down don`t have that kind of money.
    It seems to me that Wenger can`t wait for their contracts to expire as the only way to get rid of them, the question is what will he replace them with? With his philosophies I`m afraid we are in for much of the same. Occasionally he has made a succesful purchase but the `deadwood` is also of his doing and I`m not totally convinced that youngsters benefit that much from going through his academy. Some have already reached their peak and won`t improve others are obviously out of their depth and it begs the question why they were brought in at all? Anyone who criticizes Arsenal is labelled `negative`. If the truth be `negative`
    so be it.

  20. I’ll disagree and say it’s alot simpler than you think. Look at any successful manager’s record – don’t have a quality plater? Sign one. Ask Fergie, Mourinho and Mancini. While Wenger doesn’t have the same budget they do he still has a budget larger than 80% of the other clubs in the world but his attitude to stick with utter bollocks and go for the cheap has cost us 7 years of nothing. Fergie needed a striker that wasn’t Wayne Rooney so he cycled through and got a gem in Hernandez and blew a big chunk on Berbatov. There’s some pros and cons there but he saw a weakness and mixed experience with youth in his purchases. While Berba is now somewhat mediocre you can’t forget he top scored for them at one point and he has helped them win trophies.

    Jose and Mancini are perfect emaples of “you have to buy trophies in football nowadays”. Sorry to tell Wenger but the days of putting together a squad of cheap players to win is over. Actually, Wenger has never put together a squad of cheap players. In the 90s and early 2000s, arsenal were considered one of the richest clubs in the league so whether you want to admit it or not – Arsenal bought trophies because they could offer better salaries than every other club that wasn’t called Man Utd. Now that the field is even, Wenger continues to live in this fantasy world that he has won things by being frugal – not the case as we have one of the largest wage bills.

    Sorry to break it to you but football is about money these days. Just a few seasons ago City were at best a mid-table team and now they top the league table. No sorry it wasn’t built on a team that promoted from within and grew up playing together. It’s a collection of players with experience and quality. I’m not suggesting Wenger go blow 100M of the club’s money but we have centre backs and midfielders playing at full back and his transfer activity is putting a 17 year old Oman teenager on trial? We have no creativity with Ramsey, Arshavin and Walcott but they can play every week.

    Fabregas loved Arsenal but he saw the writing on the wall – Wenger’s empty promises that he can deliver support for world class players. After 7 years of hearing but not seeing, he wanted out.

    Oh let me just blow your thesis out of the water with one more point. Not as simple as buying players? Well what happened on August 31st 2011, about a week after a laughable 8-2 thrashing and an embarrassing 4-3 loss to Blackburn? Oh right he spent 50M on new players with experience and some level of quality. What happened then? Oh we started to look like a competent football team. Can’t buy wins? You’re ‘avin a laugh.

    • This is the truth,,,but then staring at it makes me feel sad…If things go on as such RVP will also move on and then we reduce to a below average team…Pity..

    • I think you missed my point. I didn’t say transfers weren’t a way to progress, quite the opposite in fact. I said that transfers weren’t the ONLY way.

      We need some positions plugged, no doubt about it. But I’m more concerned with the fact that we have quality players who are underperforming over the long term. Until that is solved, will adding more players to fall into that category even help?

  21. Farewell RVP, Thanks for the memory. Welcome to Europa League, Thursday Night, Channel 5.

  22. The last Manchester City game I watched against Liverpool I kept my eye on the City left full back a bloke by the name of Clichy…..remember him? He was cool, calm and in control and cutting into midfield to create pressure on the Scousers`s. He made me feel confident that he knew what he was doing. Never gets a mention these days. I wonder why?

  23. I am glad that there are fans like you who are still sensible enough to look at the Arsenal situation with such balance. I’m disappointed when I hear an Arsenal fan describe Alex Song as abysmal & overrated, or demand for Theo to be sold. Very absurd.

    I have always maintained that if anything is arguable at the Arsenal, it’s the system: The ideology of acquiring players -whether proven or potentially capable- within our means and putting all our faith and patience in those players to work hard, produce the expected quality in return and play the roles they were brought in/developed for. Sometimes (and I dare say most times) the system works (Wilshere e.t.c). Sometimes it doesn’t (Aliadiere, Jeffers). Sometimes when key players also leave, it becomes a major setback as well. I believe this was the case with Hleb, Adebayor, Kolo Toure and Nasri, among other quality players in whom the club put a lot of faith in and were always hard to replace. At the end of the day, you only need to see Wenger’s record over the years he has been at the club to acknowledge or dispute this system, but blaming our lack of results on out-of-form players or a miserly board is not thinking all-inclusively.

    Notwithstanding, what many fans don’t realize is that unlike Man City and Chelsea, you do not need a squad of 25 worth billions at the very least to remain competitive and win trophies. Walcott, Arshavin, Song, Chamakh, Diaby, Rosicky and all those other so-called “mediocre” players have proved they are worth wearing the shirt at one point of their career. Calling them mediocre is not just overly critical, it is severely inaccurate. Now I’ll be the first one to say that some are not playing well, particularly Arshavin and Chamakh, but the notion that selling them will help us is absurd. If we are to sell every player simply because they are in a slump or are prone to injury, shouldn’t we have sold Van Persie years ago?

    • Indeed. We would have lost Van Persie and Song, to name two players who now form the crux of our team. We would also lose Walcott, a player whose stats at 22 are only matched by the very elite of world football.

  24. I think we look to players like theo for super quality coz most of our team are mediocar bar van persie and with only one leader in this department its hard for our youngstas to follow, whn we had the invincible we had like 3 or 4 super quality player with consistancy now we Only hav rvp n verminator so any younsta tht plays willl have to put in more thn there fair share to make up for lack of quality in our mediocar squad which is unfair, n for this no one is to blame but wenger for failing to contain his super quality player when they become a force to be reckoned with so they can become leaders to the new line of super quality players, let’s not forget a super quality player need super quality service n rvp for eg only gets this from a combination of 3 players who dnt have individual Consistant super quality status yet they theo, song n arteta

    The moral of the story is arsenal were once super quality, and u can’t replace tht with just plain quality with faith in ur players to maintain the same levels, wenger hav let his supet quality players down by not maintaining the super quality of players tht leave n really giving them false hope by brainwashing with his philosophy obsession n hope

    N it aint about money coz we cud of got van der vaart, parker which wud add a lot more to our team as u only need to look at spurs position in the table to confirm but I’m afraid if wenger keeps up this ignorance he will find himself building a new team every season

  25. Hi Great Post, However, i feel that you stopped short of the real conclusion here, in the last two league games and to a large extent at leeds tooo, we have seen teams with less talent than our second string put in strong performances that have cost us points.. crucial points i must say, there is no doubt that we have talented boys, i regretfully tend to think that our beloved coach no longer has the ability to bring the best out of his players, thats the glaring truth, yes we were depleted yesterday but surely none of the swansea players would be our first choice players. i agree with you that no matter who we buy if we cannot bring the best out of them then it is not worth it, it is unfortunate but i think Wenger needs help and neeeds it now otherwise he could turn to be a liability to this great club.

  26. There are better examples of how to win out there. Whether it’s buying the trophy or buying on a budget, we can do much better.
    Dortmund put together a very good squad on a budget and won Germany last season. Newcastle did the same, and really are punching above their weight.
    It’s management. We should buy a few players in January. We also could change or formation\tactics and rotate players in form better.

    We are a big club aren’t we?

    Nice Article btw. Good to be optimistic, but I think we need a mix of buying, tactics, and rotation.

    • I agree that we need that mix. I just think that the approach of ‘we need to buy X, Y and Z’ is too simplistic. We certainly need to buy, but we need to augment the effect by raising our ability to get the best from players.

      • Agreed, but the X, Y and Z you speak of are the players that are within reach AND percieved to be of some quality. Buy quality, dump mediocrity, there has to be a home for Chamak and Arshavin, doesn’t there? (Other than Arsenal). By the way, Arshavin’s pass to RVP on the first goal was fantastic, still, that was his lone moment and RVP had several.

  27. The problem is buying more Chamakh’s. More mediocre players with great potential.

    Much of the difference between Arsenal and the three top clubs is the number of match winners in the team. Arsenal have 1. City have 8, Man Utd 5-6, Tottenham 5-6.

    One or two quality player’s is all the team needs. Leaders, match winners. A Podolski as an example.

    It will take the pressure of Arshavin, Chamakh etc.

    • That’s what I think everyone has been trying to say without saying it, perfect. I think rather than unload Chamak and Arshavin, unload the buckets of hot sick and bring in top quality. I don’t know, I’m so frustrated I can’t articulate anything.

  28. What is happening with Arsenal these days? I think there team has just gone downhill after they switched some of their top players over to another team. They really need to get better at their planning.

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