It really is tough to know how to take Arsene Wenger, it’s always around this time that the sense he was talking before we renewed our tickets goes out the window, instead, replaced by plenty of nonsense that deflects attention away from him signing the players he needs to make an impact.
Arsene Wenger came out all guns blazing with an amazing statement yesterday…
“I don’t think we are weak defensively”
Right, now as far as I can see, we’ve only ever conceded 43 goals in season once under Arsene Wenger. Last year was our joint worst defensive display under the Frenchman. In our Premiership history, we’ve only ever conceded more once and that was in 1995 when we conceded 49. In fairness, we did finish 12th, Chris Kiwomya was in the side and the Premiership consisted of 4 more games.
Last year, 43 goals conceded saw us finish in 4th place. If the season was 42 games, chances are, the form we were in would have seen us finish outside the top 4. We were shocking. Some how though, Wenger has managed to take solace in the fact that 23 of those goals were conceded from set pieces.
How, in the space of 6 months, does he take Arsenal from set piece disaster merchants, to kings of defence?
Deciphering the logic…
Well, the first thing I can imagine he’s thinking is that Thomas Vermaelen is back in the frame. The 5ft 11 Belgian is quite good in the air, though as we found out in his first season, he’s only good if he has a running jump. A ‘tremendous leap’ cannot occur from a standing position as we found out numerous times.
May I just refer Arsene Wenger to the small fact that we conceded 41 goals in a season when Thomas Vermaelen played nearly every game. I don’t have the statistics to hand, but my guess is that if we conceded less from set plays, we conceded more from open play. So basically, what I’m saying is that by bringing back Thomas Vermaelen, we’re not solving a problem. We’re merely jumbling up how we concede goals. Also remember that Thomas had the luxury of playing with an experienced Premiership veteran. Namely Silvestre. Oh, sorry, I meant Gallas.
So, if swapping personnel isn’t going to do it, what about more team preparation.
Well, that’s not going to happen is it? Pat Rice was forced to sign on for another year and as far as I can see, no changes have been made back room. Cesc did mention last year that Arsenal didn’t do much analysis into the opposition. Could this defensive problem be solved by forgetting about the individual and focusing on the additional 15-20% you can gain by knowing your enemy?
Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger are poles apart in managerial philosophy. Arsene Wenger is the extrovert rock star obsessed with creating a great show. He is the U2 of management, spreading beautiful football wherever he goes, sprinkling it with some profound comments and some politicised views. Wenger is Bono and Pat Rice is the Edge.
Jose on the other hand is the James Ford, the perfectionist in the back ground, doing the unspectacular boring stuff to produce the awards with many different bands.
Wenger needs to be more James Ford. He needs to start formulating dossier’s on the opposition players. He needs to work out where Bolton’s players are going to run from corners. He needs to tell Kieron Gibbs what to expect from his wing man. He needs to make sure someone is covering the back post. Accountability is key to great defending and if you get it right and create a unit you can take an average group of defenders and make them far more solid. You also know who to blame when something goes wrong. That’s difficult to do when no one really knows what they’re doing.
So the optimist in me tells me that’s what he’s thinking. The pessimist tells me if you’ve got a problem as outrageous as 23 goals from set pieces, your issues lie deeper than merely making sure everyone knows their role. Squillaci is arguably one of the worst signings of Wenger’s rein, he’s been systematically found out by good and bad teams, he’s part of a back 4 we know are injury prone and the manager is sticking by him?
Simple facts are as followed…
1) Wenger doesn’t like to be proved wrong on a player. It takes a minimum of 3 years for him to see the light. See Denilson, Eboue and Senderos for evidence of that.
2) Wenger doesn’t have an extensive list of players he will try for. He has a small list, if he misses out on those targets, that’s your lot. There are no surprises any more. This has been happening since he missed out on Baptista all those years ago. If Mata and Cahill fall through, I don’t see him going for more players. He’s already missed out on Friedel, Jones, Alvarez and Samba. As far as he’s concerned, the market is inflated, he’s had a go and his players have great mental spirit. Jeez people, did you not see what we did to the best Malaysia had to offer?
Ever wondered what Geoff is like to watch football with?
Poor bloke has just watched the Manchester United of Argentina go down! Things could always be worse eh?
Wenger reckons Gervinho is the new Theo Walcott. Fantastic. Exactly what this team is looking for. Give Wenger his dues though, the Ivorian bagged the most assists in Ligue 1 last year and he can play anywhere. Seems to a be a requisite of an Arsenal player these days, you have to be a jack of all trades… and in cases, master of none… as poor old right winger Nik B has found out to his demise. Things are so bad, his father has started making up clubs that are in for him..
Patrick Vieira announced his retirement from the game of football yesterday. The man was a legend, one of the most inspirational players I’ve had the pleasure of watching. He also had one of the most legendary songs to cement his reputation in the hearts of Arsenal fans all over the world. His contribution is up there with the best, his superb goal against United when he turned it in Berkamp-esque was as memorable as the screamer he scored against Newcastle at Highbury. I even enjoyed all his completely outrageous red cards, none of which he deserved.
Fittingly his last contribution to the club was the penalty that won us our last trophy against United.
A moment captured on a crappy old Samsung when Geoff and I went to the game!
Good times! Probably the worst cup final I’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting through from a footballing perspective, but equally, one of the sweetest!
All I’ll say Paddy is don’t get too involved in the transfer of Samir Nasri to City… we don’t want any soured reputations now do we?
What what was your favourite Patrick Vieira moment? Share in the comments!
[twitter-follow screen_name=’LeGrove’ show_count=’yes’]
Follow us on Facebook
Subscribe to our daily e-mail