Wenger baffles with team selection | Vermaelen switches off twice to cost us

by & filed under News Review.

So there we have it, our seven game winning streak has come crashing down with an almighty thud against a team my QPR supporting guest blogger was almost certain they had no chance of winning. We’re at that point in the season now where you can’t look at that result with anything other than total disappointment. We should have gone out and taken them apart, instead, we put in a lack lustre performance and dropped three extremely vital points. Our cushion has now disappeared and we’ve invited a world of pressure back onto ourselves.

The selection was odd straight from the off. Why when you have the £15million Gervinho and the £15million Chamberlain in your squad you opt for Ramsey on the left is completely perplexing. Both of the latter are wingers, both have far more threat going forward than the Welshman. A decision that reeks of trying to be too clever… even though I can’t quite work out what he was trying to counter with his strategy?

Anyway the first chance of the match fell to Robin after a solid opening 15minutes, his freekick was hit low at Paddy Kenny who had no problem gathering the ball up. After that, QPR started to feel their way into the game playing at a higher intensity than us. Their first chance fell to Zamora when he leaped highest to head over from a Taarabt freekick into our box.

Their opener was a sickener. The ball was played from QPR’s defence right through the middle of park. It wasn’t even a well hit pass and it should have been intercepted by our midfield, it wasn’t, Kieran Gibbs played Taarabt onside as he picked up the ball, shook off Vermaelen who kind of gave up the challenge as he watched the Moroccan smash the ball past Chesney.

What a shocking piece of defending by the whole team there. Especially disappointing to see Thomas make such a weak mistake.

It didn’t take a huge amount of time for us to level up against the run of play. Robin Van Persie managed to bundle the ball through to Theo Walcott who was in the box… he turned and struck his shot at the base of the post, the second ball came out and he fired it into the empty net. A great finish…

The second half wasn’t really much better than the first. We lacked urgency and drive all over the pitch. Aaron Ramsey was showing that he’s still not being coached properly. I like him as a player, I really do… but as I said earlier on in the season, he just doesn’t seem to get told about the bad parts of his game… namely, that he holds onto the ball too long. When he zips the ball around quickly, he’s great. What he tends to do is run with it until he’s knocked over, the attacking advantage is lost or he runs it out of play. That’s a coaching issue for me.

Alex Song was demonstrating all my fears. He’s a defensive midfielder who can create. Not a great creative midfielder. All of this nonsense around him being like Cesc is absolutely that, nonsense. However, someone needs to tell him that. He was one of the worst offenders yesterday for misplaced passes going forward. He should not be the focal point for creativity because that’s simply not where he excels.

However, it is worth noting that he set Robin free on goal one on one on 58 minutes, the Dutchman fired a high shot, but Paddy Kenny pulled off a masterful save to deny Robin his goal. That was pretty much the turning point for us in the game.

QPR took the lead again after gaining possession after Chesney failed to communicate with Koscielny resulting in a throw. Joey Barton played in Mackie, Vermaelen ran out to challenge him, slipped, lost his man, Mackie bombed into the box, picked out Diakité who had no one marking him and bang… we were 2-1 down.

Where was our midfield?  Where were Vermaelen’s studs?

3 points dropped at a ground where we really should have been extending our unbeaten run.

So what went wrong?

Well, apparently an 7 game winning run doesn’t make you the greatest team in the world and it doesn’t mask the deficiencies you’ve had in your squad all season. We have a good starting 11, we just don’t have a great starting 11. If a few things don’t click out on the pitch, we have very little to call upon, particularly up front.

You also have to make sure if you’re banking your season on having a good starting 11, you actually play that starting 11. Fielding Ramsey out on the left when I can name 4 players I’d rather have there (Gibbs, Santos, Gervinho and Chamberlain) is nothing short of ridiculous. Still, I liked Wenger’s reasoning after the game…

 “The thinking is that he played there because I decided for him to play there,”

I like that line, we should all take that back to the work place on Monday, the world would be a better place. I think what made the Ramsey decision even worse is that it took until 69minutes to make a change. Surely Wenger could see what we were seeing? Why not make the change earlier? Chamberlain might be rough round the edges but he’d have given us more options and possibly prevented Song passing to Theo all game, which as an opposition gets quite easy to defend against… especially if Theo is having an off day.

Then we have Robin Van Persie. He can’t score every game, he really can’t… but we have no other option if he’s not on fire. I don’t know how many times Chamakh has come on this season, but I’d be interested to know how many times he’s come on and we’ve lost. He is our white flag, you know it’s time to switch off the hope button when he saunters onto the pitch. I know this is a bit out there, but wouldn’t you prefer to throw Afobe into the mix over a player who we know is absolute garbage? Even worse is watching Nik B score and assist against City. Our second best striker is playing for Sunderland. Go figure?

There’s also the Alex Song problem. He’s being compared to Cesc on the main website. He’s not the sharpest, he’ll believe those comparisons and the stats show it. He made 18 duff passes going forward. 18! That’s huge. Sure he set Robin off on a run, but 18 duff passes was the reason we used to get so annoyed at Arshavin. Song is a defensive midfielder, he should play as one. Yesterday highlighted why we need a disciplined one so badly this summer. Diakité should have had Alex Song hanging off his back or in front of him for his goal, not a million miles away telling Robin off for not calling him Zidane.

Thomas Vermaelen has to be the real scapegoat if there was one yesterday. One of the guys I sit next to at the stadium has been saying for a while that the reason we love him so much is because of the Keown-esque bluster he has about his game, not his great defending. It’s true. We do overlook the errors he makes on the pitch because we connect with him (same with the keeper). Yesterday he performed badly. He’s far better than that. He needs to tighten up and sometimes I feel he needs a bit more focus.

The most important issue to stem from the game today isn’t that we lost. It’s how we react to the loss. Traditionally, we tend to collapse after a disappointment. If we do that at this point in the season, say hello to Europa Cup football next season. If we can steady the ship, win our next two against Manchester City and Wolves, then 3rd is still ours for the taking. There will be plenty of twists and turns during the run in, we just need to hope Wenger has a plan to combat the confidence crisis he usually finds his team in.

Also, I hope yesterday highlighted the need for top quality reinforcements this summer. I hope it showed all the supporters who were thinking we’d be challenging for the title next season that we’re still a very long way off that. Wenger needs to address his squad issues or we’ll be in exactly the same situation again next season. We’ve all been taking the p*ss out of Spurs fans for thinking they’re world beaters after 3 good months, we’ve been guilty of the same because we’ve won 7 games on the bounce. We can still take third, keep them crossed the boys bounce back.

Oh… and come on the SWANS!

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See you in the comments.

357 Responses to “Wenger baffles with team selection | Vermaelen switches off twice to cost us”

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  1. Dan Ahern

    Really do need to make Hazard our top target. If we bought him for 35m I’m thoroughly convinced that the worst we could do is break even selling him for the same price in 4 years. And you can’t tell me RvP doesn’t wanna play with him!

    I’m assuming Podolski, Suarez, and Holtby are locked up. So I’d say our order of importance should go:
    1.) Hazard
    2.) M’Vila
    3.) Vertonghen

  2. gambon

    We haven’t signed Suarez or Holtby. We def wontt be signing Suarez, clubs are willing to pay £20m for him, wenger will bid £4m

  3. Thomas, it's up for grabs now..

    Hazard would be excellent Business. Spuds have no chance of signing him.. Competition will be from the usual suspects.


  4. Thomas, it's up for grabs now..

    Hazard and M’Villa would be more than excellent business!

    We have the cash… do we have the intent?

  5. zeus

    I for one want players who are gonna know their roles.

    If Yann is the DM, play him as a DM. After seeing a few youtube videos of him, not sure I understand the clamor for him, but seems more Gilberto Silva than Paddy type.

    As for the rest, fuck it. Get Matias AND Giroud, play RVP in the #10 role, leave Wilshere in midfield, add Hoilett to deliver quality crosses to our passing game and lets be done with it.

    We don’t have tippy tappy quality, so lets go back to some of the invincibles stuff.

  6. Dan Ahern

    kwik fit – Actually, let’s indeed forget that. If you remind Wenger he’ll go off about how we have “super quality” coming through this year and do nothing to improve the squad. Those are all good players that can maybe add depth, but they can’t be relied upon to make us trophy contenders yet.

  7. Dan Ahern

    gambon – 20m? I dunno, I can’t see it. It could depend who the cheaper of Giroud and him (or some other player) is though. It could also depend on his fitness.

  8. Rob The Goon


    I would like a new manager too…but pardew?

    Never that…just because he got it right with a few signings?!

    Every manager gets it right once in a while.

    Dont get me wrong i am not defending Arsene…he should of went a long time ago.

  9. Rob The Goon

    Dont get rid, let them learn from world class players not mediocre players.

    If they are good enough they’ll make the breakthrough…

  10. Pedro

    Gambon, Neymar would be the better buy… Hazard is a problem from an attitude perspective. I’m highly doubtful we’ll be in for him…

  11. gambon


    That’s an absolute myth. He’s a hard worker, never dives, and just gets on with it. You wanna see attitude issues look no further than Neymar.

    It is quitte funny how Arsenal fans go into denial about a players quality once they think he is beyond our reach.

    As I say Neymar has a higher ceiling but Hazard is the smarter signing.

    He is creative, won’t get homesick like Neymar could and would be cheaper.

    If Hazard continues his progression he is a guaranteed ballon d’or.

  12. Bade

    I saw Hazard playing several times, and I tend to agree with Gambon there

    He’s a frantic player, knows to drive the ball, pass, shoot, dribble, and has all the motivation in the world to succeed

    He has the winners spirit

  13. Bade

    This was a tiring year so far, just hope it ends already

    What a bummer of a season

    At least, in the up side, The Scousers are soooooo shite, hahahaha, they’re 11 point adrift of 6th !!!!

    Hahahaha, thanks Kenny for softening it for us! Top lad 😆

  14. goondawg

    Hazard may well be the next big thing, but with a host of clubs tailing him, it is very unlikely we will not get him. If only Wenger could part with the 35 million needed, but alas he won’t.. Not to mention the astronomical pay rise he will need to secure his signature, but will he break the salary cap? *sigh*

    Podolski, Hazard, M’vila, Vertonghen – would be a perfect summer

    And clubs like liverpool are offering 20m+ for Suarez (the Anderlecht one) so talks about pre-contracts agreement musta been a load of tosh, or verbal agreetment with Le Senile means squat all in this day and age. When are they going to announce Podolski? Isn’t it close to Season ticket renewal times?

  15. arsene nose best

    yesterday was pivitol and we fucked it,we have the hardest run in,there’s no way we will finish top4 now,you can kiss goodbye to all these players we have been linked with,probably bollocks anyway.

  16. Dan Ahern

    Pedro – true, we very likely won’t get either Hazard or Neymar, but Hazard at least isn’t outside the realm of possibility. Neymar might be better to buy, but he’s not been linked with us at all and is significantly more expensive than Hazard anyway. (Plus there’s the (seemingly ridiculous) rumor that Barca put a down-payment on him.)
    Meanwhile, Hazard appears interested in several clubs, which could include us. It’d be supremely difficult to win that bidding war, but at least our style of play and fact that he’d be a guaranteed starter would help. So, quite unlikely, but it’d be very worth it for us to try to put up big money for him. We’ll also need big wages and a gigantic buyout clause, but it’s doable.

  17. goondawg

    Wenger once praised Neymar very highly though, I think when put to the question who would you buy regardless of price.. It seems he has heart set on Barcelona from all the reports

  18. Ice

    The success or failure of this team hinges on the immediate future of Song

    Get rid of him and the future is bright

    Stick with him and the future is what you see now

    Be brave Arse and move him on

    He will lose you your job and legacy

    BTW these sentiments were given to me by an existing member of the club’s coaching team

    No shit

  19. Doublegooner

    Why does Wenger stick all the wrong players on the left flank ?

    Arshavin, Nasri, Eboue, Senderos & now Ramsey.

    The man is his own worst enemy. His team selection on saturday has destabilised the momentum …again.

    3rd or 4th are at risk based on how we’ve collapsed over the past seasons.

  20. Samir

    I’d take Adebayor back in a heartbeat…
    With his goals+assists – he’s the most complete striker in the PL apparently!

  21. Byo

    @Ice- Another rumor monger, eh?
    Tell me why a member of the coaching staff will be talking to you when he knows how far it will travel.

  22. goondawg

    Ice, you have to add Walcott to that. One trick pony that will need another 200 games before he can even master the “stepover”

    I can’t understand how Oxlade’s last game was the stormer of a game against Milan, where he was motm in my opinion. And now Ramsey, who in those games he was injured we managed to pick up form and a string of results, gets the nod over…

  23. Doublegooner


    I wonder how much Wenger really wants to keep Song.

    I believe Song still has his house on the market. A little birdie tells me he wanted out a few weeks ago.

    I hope his house sells & he does clear off.

  24. zeus

    Hazard is more than ‘gettable.’

    What we know:
    1. Several clubs want him.

    2. He is VERY concerned about getting serious playing time. That already rules out the likes of Barca, Madrid and City who can’t guarantee him a spot week in and out. Also

    3. That leaves us, Chelsea, Utd, PSG and others. Our odds improve from there. Lets hope TV5 can tap him up.

  25. goondawg


    If Hazard really is as good as many believe him to be then your second point should not matter. The confidence he has in taking on players and those moments of magic he produces. He shouldn’t be too concerned about playing time because idealistically he could walk into any team. He has the pick of the bunch.

    Utd, PSG and Chelsea .. We have the slimmest pickings of all these teams. As they would blow us out the water with their wage packets and trophy ambitions.

  26. zeus


    Those expressions of apprehension has come from him and his representatives. This talk of is he really as good as he thinks bla bla, I don’t think matters too much.

    Realistically, whose place does he take in Barca’s line up to allow him to play week in and out? Same with Real. Not even Kaka is guaranteed a game. Same with Sahin. That most go into his thinking.

    Not to mention theother variables. New team, language, country etc., who is to say he can replicate the form he is showing now immediately to displace any star from those teams.

    As for PSG, I forgot to say that I would rule them out as well. The guy wants to play in a higher quality league than the French. PSG is more money, but with their talent pool, he isn’t certain to get playing time there either. Mostly though, its about testing himself in a higher quality league.

    Rule out Barca and Real and that leaves England really.

  27. follow the money

    Well it’s not all bad. You guys know that if we’d won every game from Feb till the end of season Wenger would do nothing this summer. Championship teams only have 2-3 off games a season not 7-8 like we do and if Wenger wants to contend for the title he’s going to have to sign enough quality to rotate and not have so many “off days”

  28. Ben Donnelly

    Hazard, mvila haha you guys really? £55m the arse? C’mon!
    Giroud looks good..in France.. So does the Eiffel tower, in Blackpool it looks shit. So who knows.
    Vertinghen is our economy mvila signing. Cover for cb and song the enforcer.
    Hazard pure parp for season ticket sales..we couldn’t muster £15m for mata, he has been sensational.cesc and nasri rolled into one. Probably £25m now?
    So I’m going for
    A free, any free
    And of course jack is like a new signing for us…

  29. follow the money

    No way is Adebayor coming back. Remember what he did to our captain’s face? I don’t care if that tosser was on 50p a week I would still tell him to fuck off

  30. goondawg


    I admit it is likely that Hazards’ destination is England more than any other country, purely because he himself admitted EPL seems like a very exciting league to play in. However you can’t rule out Zidane’s hand in guiding Madrid these days as their sporting director, and currently he is making a lot of noise on the Lille youngster’s behalf.

    While I also hope Thomas Vermaelen is doing his utmost best to entice Eden, the fact is Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool and even the dreaded Tottenham are in for this guy. This tidbit of info coupled with Wengers frugal approach to delve in the transfer window, and his reluctance to part with huge amount of money makes it one of those dream transfers that will never transpire.

  31. Moray

    if we were really planning to make decent signings as everyone seems to think, then we wouldn’t be so eager to sign up Rosicky to a new 2 year contract (after 5 decent games in 5 years). Wenger would rather pay a fortune to current squad players – even underperforming ones – than risk signing new ones. It is a paranoia of his.

  32. passionandpride

    One loss and we are back to reality. I like that.

    Unless we are connected firmly with the hard fact, naked truths, we cant build on for the next year. This year is anyways gone. Wenger has done nothing better than last year. Nothing at all except some facile wins in the PL. He has just prevented catastrophe. In fact, a few players who have helped him doing so. I cant believe he has had any tactical contribution for us to beat Chelsea 5-3, or Spurs 5-2. Its a few players who played the games of their lives and brought smiles and cheers to us.

    Wenger has completely ignored FA cup. He just did not let the team go for it. Criminal!

    However painful that might be, ideally, we should have been where Liverpool is this season. Maybe that could have shaken up things at Arsenal for good; just may be.

  33. luke

    We could get hazard for a few reasons,

    Higher quality league, attacking style, Champions League, French manager, belgium teammate, guaranteed starting place,

    BUT, will Wenger cough up 30+ million on a single player? Doubt it

  34. jnyc

    Ok this time ur wrong to blame vermaelen for slipping, re watch the play- and tell me where was everyone else? Verm in position but slipped, kos in whete supposed to beand sagna in to help as usual BUT THE BOX WAS WIDE OPEN FOR THE SIMPLE ASSIST AND UNMARKED MAN TO SCORE. We should have had at least 3 more players there to defend. Children couldchave scored on us there. We are only effective when we play team defense and help out. This is how teams defend against us also. Where was ramsey, gibbs song arteta? We had drawn level, and continued to play lazy. And songs pass thru to rvp was the pass of the match. He would get credit again IF we had scored

  35. Gunner2301

    Pedro great post. You get way too much flack on here but sorry the flack Song gets is deserving. We need to measure Songs effectiveness by the qualities that he should be judged by and that is as a DM not as a CAM.

    Football is a team game where every player has a role to play and the effectiveness of the team depends on that. If Song is up the field who’s covering for him? Arteta? Should he be? Anyone who has been in the forces will understand this and it’s importance to the success of the team.

    I don’t rate Song not as a DM he’s not Arsenal quality and will not take us to the next level. Le Coq has more natural ability as a DM and I’d play him there then you’d have to ask would Song fit in further up the field and again you would have to ask yourself if he’s good enough to play there and the answer is no.

    A basic quality of a midfielder is to hold the ball and distribute it here again he fails. Yes he has provided assists but that means he’s covering for someone else and were back to players roles.

    In a tight ship although Song has got assists he should be bollocked for neglecting his duties as should those who are failing to assist and forcing him to take matters into his own hands. We run a slack ship where players can hide for 2 yrs in Rosickys case 100 games in Denilsons. We are a I’ll disciplined team and under performance or dereliction of duty is tolerated.

    This stems from weak management and weak tactics. QPR may not have the best team but Hughes knows how to exploit our weaknesses as did Allardyce, Ferguson and a raft of other tactically adept managers who know how to setup a team and deploy tactics to get a result. These are the same weaknesses we all know about but still go unaddressed. Wenger failed the players and the players failed themselves.


  36. jnyc