FA Cup: I’m relieved at Arsenal draw. Even worse, I’d have taken it pre-game.

by & filed under Match report.

This is what it’s come to people, feeling quite pleased you’ve escaped deepest darkest South Wales with a replay. We set up with a pretty strong side. The only major changes came up top with Ramsey who slipped wide left. Obviously. He has all the ingredients needed of a wideman. I have no idea why Arsene doesn’t put Cazorla there? Surely the skillful Spaniard has more chance of making an impact in the front three than Ramsey, who often resembles a pigeon in a greenhouse when deployed there.

The game didn’t exactly get off to a flying start. Cagey is an understatement and possession was hardly in abundance. The first major chance fell to Danny Graham who used his power to bring down a long ball whilst easily shrugging of Mertesacker, he unleashed a beast of a shot that Chesney did well to tip wide.

Theo Walcott and Giroud had an interesting opening 45, with Theo deciding he’d like to play centrally, thus pushing Giroud out wide. Our formation slipped into a weird lop sided 4-4-2… or an unbalanced 4-3-3 that had hallmarks of Bendtner football experiment. The two did interlink well, which ended in Jack playing Theo in for a shot that was deflected. Walcott tried to force play a few minutes later but found himself hacked over just outside the box. Why he was allowed to take the freekick over a specialist like Cazorla is beyond me… more special ‘please sign a contract’ treats? Who knows. The kick was blasted into the wall.

Ramsey found himself through on goal after some in box confusion, he fluffed his effort which rolled slowly into the keepers arms. Cazorla was next up with an effort on goal, he spooned a Gibbs cross over the bar.

We didn’t have it all our own way, Swansea flew a speculative freekick into our box, Mertesacker again beaten for power, this time by Kyle Bartley whose header rattled the bar. Frighteningly poor from the massive German. Am I the only one who thought Bartley looked impressive? Or is it just that our centre backs looked so unimpressive?

The first proper attempt at Swansea’s goal came right at the end of the first half when Cazorla drove a low shot that required a dive from Vorm. The opening 45 had the feeling that most games with Arsenal have of late… that the team don’t know how to attack and they don’t know how to defend. We’re stuck in this weird footballing purgatory at the moment… it’s not chronically bad, but our game shows no sign of consistently breaking out of this circle of averageness.

The second half was more exciting. You know, in the way that neutrals always purr over…

‘Oh, the Arsenal fans won’t be enjoying this, but I’m sure the neutrals will.’

Anyway, it was a feast for the eyes and a famine for the purists.

Giroud started off the chances after he latched on to a Theo pass, his shot was fired straight at Vorm… he didn’t have the confidence to do anything else. Moments later the Frenchman scissor kicked a Gibbs cross at the goal which needed a very good save to keep it out. He kind of injured himself in the process, but manned up and came back on.

Ramsey nearly landed a penalty after being tripped in the box. Well, until the replay came in and it was clear that he’d actually tripped himself. Only Rambo could do that and believe he was fouled.

Michu was brought on and within minutes, he’d wrestled past Mertesacker after Koscielny had failed to clear… the Spaniard showed superb composure to place his shot past our keeper. What a disaster. Arsene reckons his scouting network missed a 6ft plus La Liga midfielder who scored 17 goals? Firstly, of course they didn’t. Secondly, by saying they did, what are you saying about your scouting network? I mean, if I was a scout and a lazy one, I’d look at the goal scoring charts and see if anyone jumped out at me. Especially in La Liga, it’s not like the Premiership where you can have technically average players doing well. If someone scores 17 goals, there’s a good chance they might be ok.

Perhaps we should all put together a list of players we could be looking at and I’ll e-mail the names over to Steve Rowley.

The fact Swansea had made 3 changes before we made one was worrying. Wenger, sticking to his ridiculously stubborn ‘I won’t change things until 70minutes regardless of how bad things are’ is really trying.

We didn’t give up though. Ramsey did well to cross to Giroud, sadly, the Frenchman headed wide from 6 yards. Moments later, he took a shocking touch which put an end to a good attacking move. Our moment came though. Theo overhit a corner to the back post, Sagna played it back into danger, the ball ended up at Arteta’s feet, he played it into the box, Lukas latched onto it with a turn and smash into the bottom corner.

Things really started to look up shortly after. Gibbs played the ball into Giroud, he chipped a delightful ball over the Swansea defence with Gibbs on hand to volley it spectacularly into the roof of the net. World class, in every way. Giroud making up for his lapses in front of goal with a magical assist.

Such a shame our defence had to ruin it. From a Swansea corner, Podolski sliced his headed clearance into the box, Ki controlled it, passed it Danny Graham, whom no one tracked, he took a touch and rifled it into the roof of the net. A shoddy defensive display again. So unprofessional, but so familiar. Wenger praised Gibbs after the match, but he’s just as much a part of the problem as the rest. It’s great having a marauding full back, it’s better having one who can be part of a defensive unit.

Swansea had chances to finish the game towards the end, luckily for us, the replay was secured. An outcome neither side would have fancied.

Arsene Wenger lives to fight another day. If we win in our next game, we’ll have Brighton in the next round. They have a nice stadium.


Another sterile performance from a group of players who are very good at keeping the ball for 60% of the game, not so good at really doing anything of note with it. Didn’t Wenger dig out Spain for something similar?

I’m always amazed that  team that is drilled in pass and move sessions 3 times a week struggles with movement. There were a number of occasions during the game when the midfield had the ball but no one in an advanced position was moving. Totally flat footed. That, combined with a lack of ambition in the middle of the park causes a really turgid brand of football.

It’s interesting, because as much as we coo about our midfield trio, they really do struggle to make an impact. When Cesc was in his prime he was a factory of incisive passing and space making. I’m not really seeing the same thing with our current three, who, on paper, are really good players. Is it because they’re all quite similar, thus nullifying their effectiveness. Or is it because the formation doesn’t suit their skillset. Perhaps they’re tired? Whatever it is, we struggle to penetrate teams especially if they set up well.

Another thing that is lost on me is the lack of Rosicky when things are going down the pan. He’s a good passer, he’s positive going forward and he covers a lot of ground. He’s a good way to spark a game into action. How he’s overlooked in favour of Aaron is beyond me?

My final player gripe is about Bacary Sagna. A bad day at the office is fine, a bad month? Well, that’s not on. He’s match fit now, he still has the same pace as before, but he’s playing like an amateur. His head is somewhere else, if that’s because he’s half way out the club, then that needs to be addressed now. It’s a shame we didn’t move for Mathieu Debuchy, the 27 year French international right back. I don’t think Jenkinson is ready for the first team yet and he’d act as solid cover.

There are so many problems at the moment, I don’t know where to start. The fact the manager can look at that team and say, ‘nothing will happen transfer wise until Theo signs on’ make it all the worse. He’s not even world class! Not that it matters. I’m not sure throwing more players into the mess that is Arsenal will make a huge difference. You bring in David Villa, what does that do? We’re not creating chances. You bring in a centre back, what does that do? There’s no focus on organisation or tactics. The only way we get out of this mess is replicate the sides of 2004… because a side like that can manage itself. Trouble is, that’d cost £200m.

Adding new players is like putting more sugar into a cake mix you’ve spilt weedkiller in… it’s just papering over the cracks, or sweetening the toxic mess. I’m struggling to see what he’ll dp, the fact Arsene says we might add a couple of players because Chamakh an JD have moved on is perplexing. Were deals really being held up based on those two muppets who’ve barely started a game all season?

Whatever happens, we’re going to struggle this season. We’re rudderless, we’re being outsmarted by teams on budgets that are 12% of our total wage spend. It’s embarrassing. Swansea had a more dangerous bench than us today. What has this mess become?

As for all the people asking yesterday… ‘Did you read the quote in full’… to the Arsene wage control story. I’m not sure what they were pointing out? It’s like half the people who peddle these stories have never worked in a big organisation. I have to get my CEO to sign off a payrise. That’s the same in almost every role. However, if I sign off a payrise and that person doesn’t perform, it’s on me. The manager decides what people are paid, he’s paid £7.5m to do so, if he gets it wrong, it’s his fault. In the same way managers in normal jobs take the rap for over paying people who are useless. The fact that Arsene is on record as saying, ‘if you can afford to do it, do it’ is scandalous  Eating up all that resource because you can afford it? Unbelievable! What is the point in building a money making machine if you have a manager intent on spunking all the surplus budget on bribing young men into loving the club? Total madness…

He controls the wages… that was news to most people and really, the fact Ivan signs it off is inconsequential to the decision making process. That’s where it might be beneficial to have a Director of Football who could question the deals. Anyway, that’s a conversation for another day… we’re still in the FA Cup. Happy days people.

See you in the comments.


347 Responses to “FA Cup: I’m relieved at Arsenal draw. Even worse, I’d have taken it pre-game.”

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  1. Keyser

    “”Joppa: Scoffs at people saying what Wenger should do. Says what Wenger should do.”

    Just classic Joppa really.

  2. Ché C Cheriton

    Not really. You duds come on here going on about we need to sign this player and that player yet it’s as clear as day what the real problem is here – Wenger. What good will it be if he goes and spends £100M on players when he cannot motivate them or make a winning team that will challenge.

    FFS look at it we are behind the likes of Everton and Tottenham now. And you want him to spend more money.

    Arsene wannabies half of you lot.

  3. michael

    Moyes contract is up at the end of the season hes always talked about as fergies successor pay wenger the last year of his deal n take moyes as replacement

  4. Ché C Cheriton

    You just have to laugh at Keyser. Came on here after the Swansea game yesterday and spent best part of 3 hours rowing that Ramsey should of had a penalty. How the fck even cared?

  5. TOLI83


    Everyone wants him out mate, you ain’t different to anyone else. Spurs were ahead of us this time last year so it isn’t a new feeling.

    Course wanted him to buy BA why not, he would improve our team. I don’t want him spending money on kids, unproven French or African players from the French league. He won’t get fired or leave on his own accord and we all know he will more than likely will go when contract expires in two years. Until then players with prem experience who knows what it takes to do well should be purchased and BA was well within range.

  6. Marko

    What’s the word lads any news on potential signings? Or is the apparent fact that the old crow is involved in contract negotiations means he’s too focused on City to worry about the need for bodies.

  7. Jeff


    I think the whole notion of a recovery has to start with Wenger’s departure from the club. We cannot begin any sort of repair work until he and his principles are all gone. This is not something personally against Wenger or some sort of hate campaign. It is for the sake of the club itself that I say it and I’m sure the same goes for a lot of people when they get over exuberant because of the sheer anger that Wenger infuses.

    As soon as Wenger is gone and the silly wages policy and transfer fee cap are lifted, it will be possible to see which players are worthy of keeping and for how much their contracts can be renegotiated by mutual consent where necessary. If a player does not want to negotiate it is possible to do as Gambon suggests and start getting a little nasty to try and wean them off Arsenal. Actually it could also have another effect. The player in question could start performing better knowing that his career is at stake. It has been observed time and time again that even able players often go off the boil simply because there is no motivation and no desire to succeed. Gunning for fourth will be a thing of the past.

    As a result some wages will go up, others will go down and quite a few players will leave of their own accord. This will allow us to start bringing in a few world class players and there is no reason to stop looking for that “gem” either but this time we will ensure that he remains at the club and isn’t sold to rivals because he can expect to be rewarded for his talent and not for having two legs and two arms.

    None of that work can ever be instigated whilst the dynamic we call Wenger is present. That’s why I don’t even advocate him going upstairs or wherever some people suggest he should go. It is better for Arsenal if Wenger leaves the club totally and has no further association with it.

    The minute Wenger leaves, I really don’t think it will take us longer than two years to become a force to be reckoned with once again. But of course the hardest part is to convince Arsene that his work at AFC is done.

  8. TOLI83

    I think Wenger going will rid us of Kronke as well. He’sdone well out of the club so far and can make a very tidy profit in Usmanov . Another manager will demand money to rebuild which by the time he leaves we will desperately need.

    Will Kronke spend and commit to the long haul or cut and run letting the Oil Man fund the new project. If I was a betting man I know where I’d put my money…

  9. Dan Ahern

    Okay, here is my latest realistic (read: cheap) idea: offer to take Marko Marin on loan. Have him play on the wings so that Ramsey becomes surpluss and Gervinho agitates for a move.

  10. luke

    I love it. Djourou gets new contract February 2012. Djourou gets loaned to Hannover January 2013 because he’s not good enough. There’s wage efficiency! Who needs Gary Cahill for 7mil? Wenger knows…

  11. Jeff


    Gervinho will not ask for a move and neither will Ramsey. Like most players in the first team, they ought to be just squad make-weights that should only be used when there is absolutely no other option. They already know their limits so a job at Arsenal is to them like license to print money. They are with us so long as Wenger is with us and are under no pressure or obligation whatsoever to perform.

  12. Cesc Appeal

    Napoli are offering us Vargas on loan

    Napoli….are offering us, Arsenal FC….a player on loan…because…he’s surplus to requirements.

    Massive reality check there.

    We are an irrelevant club now!

  13. Keyser

    Joppa – I used to think you were someone playing a character role.

    You say people should do this or that, call them cunts, deluded, and all sorts of names, what the fuck do you do ?!

    Oh yeah, Theo scores a hat-trick and Joppa knows best, then suddenly goes very quiet the next game, even quieter the game after.

  14. Jeff

    The other thing that really sends me into rage is the insistence by people who have nothing to do with the club, are not supporters or fans that Wenger is doing a marvellous job. Who the hell do they think they are kidding? We get all the other league managers queuing up to tell us how wonderful Wenger is and that we should be careful of what we wish. Why I wonder; because they would hate to have another team who will actually challenge them for top honours. They don’t want another contender in the mix.

    The latest imbecile to wade in is Van Der Sar who on the one hand advises Van Persie to leave for Man U and is now praising Wenger for his youth policy. How shallow can you get?


  15. Ché C Cheriton

    Keyser….clearly haven’t read my comments today.

    I’ve said Theo WILL NOT sign because Arsenal cannot match his ambition.

    Theo hardly got any service in the last two games. I’ve already said I would build from the back anyhow. Begovic, Baines, Cahill, Shawcross, etc etc.

    Sort the defence out first. But ONLY after we have got the lunatic out.

  16. Cesc Appeal


    I’d love that because no matter how he tried to slice it he’d come across as exactly what he is…a hypocrite

  17. ethan_gunner

    it’s not chronically bad, but our game shows no sign of consistently breaking out of this circle of averageness.

    hahaha that sums up the past 8 years or so 🙂

  18. Ché C Cheriton

    Yeah, but all strikers miss. I mean we had the third best striker in the world and best in the EPL and let him go – can’t really blame Theo for that just our fck wit of a manager.

    To me, it doesn’t really matter who we get whilst Wenger is in charge and it certainly doesn’t matter how good or shite Theo is (depending on your opinion). I happen to like him, most don’t but in the grand scheme of things it’s not that important – getting Wenger out is the most important and getting Usmanov in trumps everything else.

    It makes no odds to me if we finish top 4 or not. Yes I will be gutted to finish behind Spurs because it hurts, but perhaps it’s what we need?

  19. Cesc Appeal

    Problem is we have no players who can grab a game by the balls.

    Wilshere – too young.

    Arteta – too old and starting to look tired and average.

    Cazorla – fantastic player but not the leader of the orchestra.

    Walcott – lightweight player, blows hot and cold. Unlike RVP, Henry, Bergkamp before him he can’t single-handedly win a game, or rather put in a match winning performance.

    Vermaelen – Awful form, looks like captaincy has destroyed him.

    Schez – too young, too arrogant and a goalie.


    Arsene Wenger – Where a manager like Sralex can win a game with a half time talk, a sub, a look. Wenger cannot even motivate his players who’s he’s handpicked and stuck on fat contracts to perform above average consistently.

  20. K.C.

    Out of all the transfer rumors to choose from, it’s sad that the only one that stands out to me as possibly true is us offering 1 million to Napoli for Vargas on loan. We don’t need Ba but some under-achieving runt from Chile should solve all our problems up front certainly. From Villa to Vargas, that’s going to be a hard crash down to earth for the few true Wenger believers left out there. Maybe I’m wrong, but I doubt it.

  21. Keyser

    Joppa – Nah, it pretty much does matter who we get in,

    Walcott’s a decent player, who has extreme pace and is inconsistent, formation, his position or who he plays with don’t matter too much, it’s that he has a limited skillset that he struggles to make the most of.

  22. Keyser

    Getting 4th is most important, that’s it really, the rest is childish wishful thinking, Before you get on, not because 4th’s a trophy but that’s probably our limit this year.

  23. ethan_gunner

    everyone is afraid of the MIGHTY WENGER leaving or at least stepping back .

    i say bring on change ..

    Theo is a legend and so is jack .. glad wenger kept them ..

  24. Keyser

    It’s not what it means to you, it’s what it means to the club, it’s another significant amount of money we’ll miss out on, making it harder to get back to where we were and considering we’re a year or two away from re-newing sponsorship deals, it’s pretty important.

  25. Arsene Wenger

    Cos we will undoubtedly finish 5th or even 6th pray tell.

    Especially if we continue in this evertonian style mk 2.0 January transfer window of buying shit cheap as chips below average hit and run players. Saying that does everton a great disservice because they have bought far better players than Gervinho and Chamakh

    I hear we are linked to James McCarthy and Lucas Biglia and

  26. ethan_gunner

    david villa wasnt old when we should of got him !

    the year cesc had his show !

    thats when the time was right…… , but the club didn’t make a move ..
    they would rather sit on a pile of cash , and wreak of mediocrity

  27. Phil

    You’re right 4th means something to the club financially.
    But Sometimes some financial pain means you have to take a fresh look at things, and make changes. Then ofcourse, sometimes nothing changes because the lunatics are in charge of the asylum.

  28. Your Keysers so fat (Korean Accent)

    that when he sits on the beach, Greenpeace shows up and tries to tow him back into the ocean…

  29. Moray

    Jeff, it is unlikely we would offer Ramsey a new 50k per week contract if we were planning to loan him out. Maybe in 6 months time, we will do so (as we did with Djourou).

    I wonder how many other Premiership teams have so many ex first team players on loan as us? Must be only Man City…