Arsenal could struggle today…

by & filed under News Review.



Oh good morning to you all! It’s Sunday, there’s a crisp coldness in the air and it’s a BIG day for the Arsenal.

So where do we start here?

Ok, so there were some stories pinging around about Desso pitches going in at Carrington after they suffered a spate of injuries. The pitches have artificial fibres woven into them to give them more hold. Desso are actually a famous carpet maker. Anyway, some people sent the story my way, indicating that maybe we need some of it at our ground.

Now, I’m not sure on this one, but I’m pretty much 100% that we have that fibre woven into our home pitch. My guess is that Arsene would have instructed a similar lay at the training ground so as to achieve consistency.

I might have that totally wrong, but Wenger is pretty into detail with things like that.

Counter to the point, if people are looking at training pitches for our injury problems, you really are barking up the same tree Wenger was when he highlighted hair pills being a problem. Our issues mostly stem around how we look after players. You can see at a very high level that’s the case because we don’t rotate. You can see it at a ‘circumstantial’ level when players turn up to games flat and low on energy.

Today is going to be a very tough game. We would easily find ourselves on the losing team today. We’ve had a demoralising game against Anderlecht, so we’re not just dealing with fatigue, we’re dealing with the mental dampener that is realising you’re not very good at the moment.

I think Wenger should look to bring in some of the players who have been out in the dark. Start with Tomas Rosicky, bring Lukas into the fold, have a crack with Joel Campbell. I think last year, one of our better games was against Hull when we rested about 8 players. I understand at a basic level why Arsene is unlikely to do that… we’re playing shite, he’s under pressure and he thinks playing the best 11 is the best way. But we have to think longer term than that. We have to consider what’s coming up. Wenger also has to think about his squad.

What is the point in having a squad if you don’t trust them at all?

There are signs that Arsene Wenger is feeling the heat. He’s getting all… ‘I’M A MANAGER NOT YOU’… with some of his comments, which always give you a little bit of insight into what he’s really like. This comment is about Paul Merson.

“I managed him. I tried. I’m not interested in Paul Merson.”

That’s pretty funny. I mean, if you’re Paul Merson, you’ve just been burned. I think Merson talking about tactics is a bit like Russell Brand talking about politics, you know there’s something in there, you’re just not sure what it is.

But this second comment is brilliant

“These debates I hear are a joke, a farce. People who have managed altogether zero games [Merson was briefly in charge of Walsall], they teach everybody how you should behave. It’s a farce.

“Honestly, I cannot even be upset about it. People criticise without any proven fact, just because they love to criticise. It’s much more about bitterness than any real objective facts.”

Why is it brilliant? Because it shows you how detached the man is from reality. People aren’t debating the merits of Wenger’s false 10. They’re debating the absolute basics of football management. You know, like what to do when you’re 3-0 up at home to a poor team. Picking apart a Wenger set up isn’t like picking apart Pep Guardiola in the Champions League semi final. It’s ripping apart something so horrendously average and ill thought out you can’t quite believe you’re debating it.

There are so many facts supporting tactical naivety it’s embarrassing. It’s not a question of opinion. It’s clear as triple distilled vodka that Arsene has no clue when it comes to setting up against great teams. Even small teams. The farce is that he’s had all the facts at his disposal for ten years and he’s not improved.

Today, we lose Arteta but we’ll have Jack coming back into the squad. Aaron will be available, but for me, he should be dropped based on how he’s played of late. That said, heading to Wales might spark something in his game. Santi will probably play in the hole as we don’t have that many choices elsewhere, and unless Wenger wants to pick Theo, I’d imagine the front three picks itself.

We have enough for Swansea on paper, but do we have enough physically? It’s going to be very tough…

How hard is Bony going to bully Monreal today? He’s an absolute monster. Calm, composed and brutal. He’s a striker we should have looked at in the summer. A real talent. I think fans need to ease up on Monreal. He’s a left back playing at centre back. That’s a joke in itself. It’s not his fault he’s struggling. Apparently he’s a top bloke behind the scenes and he doesn’t deserve the flak he gets for giving his all in a terribly difficult situation.

The nightmare today will be if Swansea press us hard and unnerve us in the opening 20minutes. Clubs that play Champions League are susceptible to this. City had problems with that style yesterday. Swansea are a very fit team and they have some classy players who can damage. Hopefully we’ll get through to half time unscathed then we can cause some bother in the second half.

Can we keep a clean sheet? That’s the big question. You’d have to think that’s going to be a struggle…

Right, I’m off, have a banging day.

Ivan Gazidis it’s not your fault. Laurent gone

by & filed under News Review.

He's so hot right now

He’s so hot right now

Morning all. Alex here…

Ivan Gazidis has won the super genius of the universe award. Yippee!

I can’t pretend to take as much of an interest in the non-football side of the club as other people. However Gazidis strikes me as a good guy who genuinely wants the best for the club.

CEO of the year though? Nah mate.

In a way the reasons he doesn’t deserve the accolade are outside of his control. In the holy trinity that is owner, manager and chief executive, Ivan definitely comes out bottom of the pile. He’s the Holy Ghost to Wenger’s messiah and Kronke’s Our Father (as an aside why does the Holy Ghost only make one appearance in the bible if he’s so bloody important?)

Wenger has a beeline straight to the owner, who is so enamoured with the Frenchman, he could probably pull off his toupee and crack a raw egg over this head in the middle of a board meeting and still get a pay rise. What this means is the guy who is supposed to manage the manager can’t, because the guy who manages him is in love with the manager. It’s an HR nightmare.

The other issue he has is that while he is passionate about the club and keen for success, his line manager, the owner, still thinks:

a) Arsenal is a brand of underarm deodorant
b) throw-ins win football games
c) fourth place is actually a trophy (he’s got 12 of them in his office in Houston!)

So what does this all mean for us?

1. Gazidis has no power to effectively manage and hold to account the footballing side of the club which has been in slow decline for a while.

2. He also has no power to improve the fan experience by lowering ticket prices, getting fans and ex players more involved in how the club is run and improving the match day experience, because all the owner cares about is the slow appreciation in value of one of the many assets in his investment portfolio.

There is stuff he has tried to do to force a change. However his pr wars with Arsene over transfer warchests usually end up burning him because Arsene doesn’t blink. When you run round telling the world you have £100 million in the bank and the only acquisition your manager makes is Kim Kallstrom on loan, you end up with quite a lot of egg on your face.

I am sure there are lots of great things he does do outside of this and, as I said, nearly of all of the criticism he receives is because he is actually stuck between a rock and a hard place. However from the point of view of a fan, Arsenal’s match day experience is toilet, the football is getting worse and ticket prices continue to go up.

In my eyes that is not worthy of any award.

In other news our best defender is now out for another 3-4 weeks (read 6-9 months). Koscielny had been suffering with chronic tendinitis of both achilles tendons for several months. I mean what can you say? The world and his dog knew we needed another defender before the start of the season, however Arsene hoped to muddle through again.

Yet more glaring evidence that the manager’s insistence on flogging the same small group of players is not only harming the team but them as individuals. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mertesacker is next. The guy is dead on his feet having played a whole world cup and now expected to carry the team defensively. The only plus side is that a long term injury might prevent Koscielny’s sale to Bayern Munich in the summer.

3 more years. 3 more years. Lather, rinse, repeat. You can follow me on twitter @aldo_doel

Award winning…

by & filed under News Review.



Happy Friday morning to you. I didn’t realise it was Friday. I’ve been out the game this week, so apologies if the blogging has been off key. I’ll be back on form next week.

Last night I was invited onto Boyd Hilton’s podcast which featured Amy Lawrence. The pod was geared around current malaise and her new book about the Invincibles. It was really interesting to hear some of her insights into Arsene Wenger layered over the challenges we’re facing now.