Excuses, excuses / Italian defender linked / Boot out the sick list…

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A couple of days on and I’m still pretty raw about the Manchester United loss. Reading around the blogs, there’s not a groundswell of anger, more a deflated feeling of acceptance, like when you look at the weather forecast and realise global warming has done nothing for those Mediterranean winters you were promised.

F*ck you Al Gore.

One of the more worrying issues that came out of our loss to United was Wenger’s excuse regarding the poor United pitch. This was an ill-advised statement and I’ve been wondering what ramifications it has for the culture we have at the club?

@Jack_Wilshere haha to be honest the pitch was shocking! Wanted to stop us playing!

Now, I don’t expect young Jack to slate the playing staff at the club, but he seems to be pretty nonchalant about churning out the same line as the manager. Simple fact is, we weren’t good enough on so many more levels than just the pitch. Arsene making excuses about the grass merely masks the truth. That’s ok if he’s giving the players a rollicking at training but from what I understand, he doesn’t.

You can’t have a culture of excuse making at a football club. You need a winners mentality to flow through everyone. Jack coming out with that little pearler on twitter leads me to believe that he’s not looking closer to home. If he’s not, what makes anyone think the rest of players are?

Chesney was in the Evening Standard yesterday, goading lucky United. Denilson will no doubt be on Arsenal.com later telling the world how we’re ready to win the league and Theo Walcott will be telling us how he likes to go to the cinema and watch films in the front row to make his eyes go funny (Bless).

The coach needs to start driving some spark into our players. You can see on the pitch that we’re too nice. He needs to drop non-performers this weekend and he needs to start creating a fear in the dressing room that if you’re not good enough, you’ll go.

Telling your squad you’re not going to buy in January served no purpose whatsoever. Where is this incentive to up your game if you know the coach isn’t going to put pressure on your place?

Let’s talk about some stats from the United game that should be flagged at the training ground.

  • Clichy pass success rate 64% (56 total passes)
  • Sagna pass success rate 65% (81 total passes)
  • Chesney pass success rate 43% (35 total passes)
  • Song successful tackles 1 (Out of a total of 3 attempted)
  • Chamakh successful tackles 5 (Out of a total of 13 attempted)
  • Arshavin successful tackles 5 (Out of a total of 5 attempted)
  • Chamakh successful shots 1 (Out of a total of 2 attempted)

Just for the full backs, here are the stats from the Spurs game

  • A.Cole pass success rate 86% (51 total passes)
  • Sagna pass success rate 94% (32 total passes)
  • A.Ekkotu pass success rate 73% (51 total passes)
  • Sagna pass success rate 67% (46 total passes)

Our full backs have been flagged as being inadequate for a long time. Did United pressurise them as a tactic?

I think Sagna is generally fine, what he lacks in flair, he makes up for in defending. However, I’m not so sure with Gael these days. How loyal can you be? He’s costing us in games on a regular basis now, he shows no sign of getting his head together… maybe it’s time to bring in new blood or hope that Gibbs will fix?

Talking of Gibbs and super injured players, where are we getting these days with loyalty to them? When was the last time sticking it out with a crock paid off? Marc Overmars and Kanu put their problems behind them back in the day and gave us some good service, Bobby P put his hard times behind him for at least a season and did well, but lately, we haven’t been getting the same luck.

We waited the best part of 2 years for the return of Rosicky. We could have gone out and purchased a glut of attacking talent in the meantime, but we didn’t. Now he’s back and fit, he’s 29 and like before his injury, he really isn’t putting in the barnstorming performances we expected after we saw him score that goal against America in the world cup. He has rarely imposed himself on a game, rarely scored a winner and he hasn’t found the net since January.

Was that two years of rehabilitation well spent?

Now we’re on the topic, we might as well talk about Robin ‘I’m ok for the World Cup’ Van Persie. He spent the whole season out, comes back fit as a fiddle for the world cup, picks up a customary injury on his return, gets back to fitness and now he looks lost. He’s apparently upset because he’s no longer first choice, but Wenger is so confused with what to do with him, he’s resorted to sticking him as a deep-lying Paul Scholes-esque playmaker.

Have the club finally realised they’re not getting value for money out of these crocks?

Will they realise that Diaby has been the biggest disappointment since Lapland in the New Forest?

Hooray kids!

Again, fit for the world cup, but comes back and he doesn’t fancy it. He was last spotted on the bench when we spanked Shaktar on the 19th October, since then, he’s been more elusive than Julian Assange (Fight the good fight Julian!).

  • 2005 – 15
  • 2006 – 13
  • 2007 – 16
  • 2008 – 25
  • 2009 – 34
  • 2010 – 6

Above are appearance stats for Abou. When do you stop, analyse and decide this player is never going to be a man you can depend on?

Wenger needs to be more ruthless in his approach to injured players. Chamakh might not be the world’s greatest striker, he might not have the talent Robin does, but he’s there, every week, trying his heart out and he hasn’t let us down yet.

What’s worth more, him in the team week in week out, or Robin for the odd 25 games?

In other news, @Greggooner told me that a number of Premiership clubs are looking at Inter’s fullback Santon. He’s fast, energetic and he’s 6ft1. There were big hopes for him at Inter but he’s fallen down the pecking order under Rafa. He’s 19 years old and worth £8.5million, so obviously, we can’t rule him out in the January transfer window. I think the fact he can play both sides has appeal, so we’ll see where this one goes!


Davide Santon



Right, I’ll catch you all in the comments section!

Have a ripping day, it’s nearly Christmas!

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Arsene Wenger proves he’s not the man for the Arsenal job… again.

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I said on twitter last night that I’m upset, but not devastated.

Geoff put up a rousing post yesterday and for a moment, we all believed. I felt confident going into the game. How could we not take advantage of the weakest United team in years?

I’ll tell you how… it’s an Arsene Wenger team. It’s about time we all owned up to ourselves that the guy just isn’t dynamic anymore. Managers like Ferguson adapt, employ trail blazing upstarts to assist them… Wenger sticks it out with a method of football that is dated and well understood by others. We went into the game top of the league, but very few people were kidding themselves we were there because we’ve blown the competition away.

Our position was about as false as a Micky Rourke facelift.

4 losses before Christmas was bad, 5 is absolutely shocking, but it’s all too familiar isn’t it?

It wasn’t hard to predict that our defence was going to be shocking most of the night. I wasn’t left gaping jawed when Alex Song body checked United players and passed like a complete muppet. My world wasn’t rocked to its core when Clichy had and absolute howler of a game.

The starting line up was missing Cesc and Robin, which I was pleased about. Arsenal fans already had Howard Webb as a ready made excuse if the worst happened, I didn’t want two unfit players to tip the balance even further in favour of the excuse brigade (You know the people, the ones who thrive off a loss so they can tell everyone else what a bad fan they are for being upset).

Things didn’t start well, United pressed and shut down incredibly well penning us in for the first 20 minutes. The two full backs made numerous errors in the opening moments. Clichy clattering Nani early on. Sagna with short back passes. Chesney’s kicking was certainly suspect but he claimed his first cross confidently.

United had the first proper chance after Squillaci cleared a Fletcher cross weakly, Nani grazed the half volleyed shot just wide. We went close up the other end when Chamakh connected with an Arshavin cross that arrived at the keeper.

We conceded when Clichy failed to force Nani wide (basic full back stuff), instead, he allowed him to cut inside, Nani hit a cross that deflected off Clichy’s boot, flew exactly the right height for Park to cushion a header over Chesney. Some blamed the centre backs, I couldn’t, it’s difficult to mark a pinpoint deflection. Martin Samuel blamed the keeper, I’m not sure how he did the maths there? That was down to yet another inept piece of Clichy defending.

There were far too many aimless flicks in the final third in the first half, not enough directness and no enough discipline in the middle of the park.

The second half began mildly better, Rosicky fired off a shot and Nasri created a chance when VDS spilled his shot, Chamakh wasn’t good enough to turn it in.

Arsene brought on the big guns on 63 minutes to very little effect. Cesc doesn’t lead through passion and heart, he leads by example. When he doesn’t want to be an example, he’s next to useless. Same with Robin, he’s like a lame horse unless he’s 110% fit.

Clichy gave away a penalty when Nani passed the ball at his hand. It was a shocking decision by the lino. However, seeing Clichy on his arse in the penalty box again was pretty embarrassing. Rooney launched the ball over the bar Johnny Wilkinson style but Arsenal didn’t have anything in the locker to punish his wastefulness.

The outcome was all incredibly predictable, even before the season started.

We don’t even have stunning football to cover our backsides this year. We’ve been laboured and clueless on many occasions this year.

What made last night even worse was the shambolic display of Jack Wilshere. For a player so intelligent, I am surprised he plays so many wild passes without even looking. He’s really lost his way.

Mind you, not enough for me to want Denilson anywhere near the team… I made a point in the summer that said a player like Joe Cole could come in and play well from the off (I said LIKE), if we went with Jack, he’d obviously be inconsistent considering his tender age. I guess this is what Evra means by training school. How many top class clubs play youth if they’re not on form? What affect does that have on a players attitude if they know they’ll get a chance regardless?

Arshavin was diabolical up top playing poor pass after poor pass. It really was a forgettable performance from the Russian. What do you do with him? It’s like Wenger doesn’t communicate with him. A player like that needs to be taken under the coaches wing and instructed what to do. He looks like a little boy lost.

Trouble is, I feel for both of them. Anyone who’s played the beautiful game will know that if you’re defence is shakier than Michael J Fox holding a drinks tray, you’re all going to be affected. Stability starts at the back. Nervousness is contagious. If you don’t know what your left back is going to do, you can’t play your own game… this has been a familiar issue all season.

The one positive note from the game was Chezzers performance. Ok, his kicking was poor in parts. Tell me Fabianski’s wasn’t in the Belgrade game… go on, I bloody dare you!

Even so, isn’t it a bit tragic that I’m sitting here comparing who had the worst kicking? Shouldn’t I be celebrating a superb clean sheet from Pepe Reina or Manuel Neuer?

Anyway, he caught every single cross and he’s 19 years old. No punching, no needless flapping, just simple, bog standard catching.

That my friends is what I call a potentially good keeper. He even took the time out to make Rooney miss a peno using NLP techniques and he saved Schmeichel-esqe from Anderson and in Superman fashion from a Rooney chip. A great Premier League debut. Here’s hoping Fabianski has an Almunia type injury.

Still, at least we all have some intelligent analysis from Wenger to comfort us.

  • The players gave it their all
  • Man United were as average technically as us
  • The pitch wasn’t very good

How poor is that? A manager on £6million a year and that’s the best he could come up with. Don’t mention we failed to create anything meaningful all game. Don’t mention that all YOUR players were utterly devoid of any tactical nous or passion. Forget that your intelligently selected Tesco’s value defence failed to live up to the piss poor billing we gave it in the summer.

It’s the pitch. Bloody hell, what next? The humidity? The aggressive bite of the Mancunian accent? Nik Bendtner’s ego bullying everyone?

Arsene Wenger is a flawed football manager. He prioritises loyalty over performances on the pitch. He refuses to address obvious flaws in his squad… flaws that are so blatant, the fans highlight them every season. He doesn’t plan properly. He can’t motivate his players and he is one of the few managers who trains his players into the ground even through the Christmas period.

5 years and he hasn’t adapted. How long do you give him? How long do you allow repeat behaviour? How long do you make the same old excuses as an Arsenal fan?

He’s created an environment that nullifies conflict. Who’s going to speak out against a manager who plays you regardless of form? A manager who rewards failure with £6ok a week contracts? A club that pampers you more than any other club in the world?

He has the board, the players and even some of the fans under his spell. Well, most of the media are waking up to the truth and I certainly have.

We’ve got world-class facilities, world-class profit margins… but we don’t have world-class football management personnel capable of justifying our existence as the priciest ticket in world football.

Before Guardiola was put in charge of Barca, Joan Laporta asked him what he thought, he responded,

‘You don’t have the conjones to employ me…’

Laporta did what needed to be done, binned a Champions League and La Liga winning manager and the rest is history.

Do Arsenal FC have the cojones to make a change, or to at least threaten one?

I know where my money would be…

See you in the comments.

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Arsenal, time to go and show you are ready, we believe in you!!!

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These were the words spoken by our manager, Arsene Wenger this weekend.

‘We have an opportunity to show how good we are – that is what you want in life.

Let’s go without any preconceived ideas, not thinking about any weakness of Manchester United, nor about any weakness from us, just let’s focus on the day, to give your best, play with belief, play for each other and we have a good chance to beat anybody’

Stirring stuff and well said boss, that’s the sort of message our men need, think of our line up and imagine how you would feel if they all played for the mancs, me I would be cacking myself!

The ideal team for me tonight would be this, injuries of course permitting.


Sagna Koscielny Djourou Clichy

Nasri Wilshere Song Cesc Arshavin


I would then unleash Theo, RVP, Rosicky or Bendtner on them for impact, I was struggling whether or not to put RVP on from the off but it may be to early, Rosicky would be my choice if Cesc is unfit and Theo’s pace for the second half.

I would tell Song to stay in his own half and let Chamakh know he needs to shoot on sight, imagine if you were them, you have Nasri, Cesc, Arshavin and Wilshere buzzing around like disturbed hornets, then you have the hammer up front to slam them home in Chamakh, if this team believes it has arrived and ready to challenge, then tonight is the night, if they can’t, then it’s time to go forth in the window and find people that can, me I believe we can, tonight we can banish those kid demons forever, tonight Arsenal, you come of age.

Tonight Arsene you have the work of the last 5 trophy-less years on view and your belief that they can prove you and project youth right, I hope I’m eating humble pie and will be the first to come out of my box and say so.

I might also be the one that comes out and says we need to bring in some new blood, I hope like hell I’m not though. I want so much to see us go to Old trafford and do to them what they have often done to us, remember Overmars, remember Keown and remember Wiltord, those were the days and now it’s time to join those illustrious players and bring home the bacon. Time to wipe the smile off the faces of Fergie, Rooney and Giggs.

Alex they will put Fletcher on to kick you, show him how good you can be, keep the ball and prove me wrong, stay in your own half and find your mates, they will do the rest.

Chamakh time to find the back of the net with a few scorchers, Arshavin time to get back to instinctive shooting and Nasri, well just carrying on doing what you’ve been doing, destroying defences!

And Arsene, take the piece that Evra (who looks like his face was shut in the door) wrote in the French press and stick it on the wall of the dressing room (I know he didn’t write it, he said it)

I was trying to find a historical analysis for the game to night and the Battle of Copenhagen sprang to mind, the first was when Nelson was told not to go after the away fleet as there were too many ships, he put his telescope to his blind eye and said ‘Ships? I see no ships’ he then sailed in alongside their shore batteries and the shallows and destroyed them. Smashed them to a pulp! The second battle of Copenhagen was when we played Parma in the Cup Winners Cup, we went unfancied and Smudger Smith hit a first half volley into the back of the net, we sang one nil to the Arsenal for the next hour and came away with the cup, I know, I was there, not for the Nelson one, the Smudger one!

I expect us to wear yellow shorts tonight, I prefer all yellow, but either way, we have already won the best kit on show, so now let’s win the game!

We can do it and I believe we will do it, get in there Arsenal, win this one and we can all have a great Christmas and at last, start believing!

Have a great day grovers, our time has come. Go Arsenal go!

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