Will the real leaders, please stand up?

by .


It’s all going off in the press this morning. I missed the Per Mertesacker interview post Anderlecht, but it’s worth rehashing parts of it today purely because of the exasperation you feel coming from his words. It’s also important to understand that this is Per, he’s been around, won major trophies, played under great managers and he’s basically our captain.

“Football-wise, we lack a few things,”

“The passing game is not as efficient as last year. We are not at our best, we have to admit that. We have to be honest to ourselves and train harder.

“Again, it is away from home on Saturday and again, I think we have to do better with our possession – to put more pressure on them, not to lose so many balls in the middle of the park, to play more in wide areas. I think it is better to expose them there, instead of playing one-twos through the middle. It doesn’t work as much as last season, so we have to work on that.

Now, I know Arsene Wenger has responded to the ‘train harder’ quip, but for me, Per isn’t saying the intensity isn’t there. The problem with our training is it’s far too intense and it leads to players looking jaded in games. No, I think Per is saying we need to train harder on things that matter. Pep intensely trains with tactics, that doesn’t mean he’s flogging them to death physically.  Arsenal clearly aren’t training the approach to play because it’s not working.

I think he makes an excellent point about too much of our play coming centrally. Again, another failing of Wenger’s recruitment process is that he signs players who all want to play through the middle. Even Theo, our most effective wide player, is desperate the play through the middle. This congests our play and kills the width.

‘For me personally, it is difficult at the moment because that was really a long season last year, and to come back from the World Cup and get the motivation back – I am nearly back but you can feel there is something missing at the moment.’

This is a really desperate statement from a player as committed as the German. This is what makes the whole centre back debacle of the summer even more baffling. Wenger knows players come back mentally tired and physically drained, so why the hell didn’t he buy a full compliment of centre backs? Even worse when you consider this Koscielny injury is something the club have known about for months. What logical reason is there for us not signing a centre back? What was Steve Rowley’s role in this? What was the data scout’s role in this? How did we let so many centre backs pass us by?

“There was a bit of belief but not that belief. So it was a bit strange. Everyone knows that it is a difficult start to the season for us, and confidence is not that much how we want it. But the character is good and the mentality is good.”

The above line is probably the most worrying, because it’s something I brought up after the September window slammed shut. Players are people. People in professions are tacitly aware of what it takes to be a success. When Arsene Wenger failed to recruit properly, he sent out a message, that message said… ‘I didn’t do my job properly, so you have an excuse to fail’… the players have a pretty good excuse not to try 100%, they have a good reason to feel a bit down and they have  reason not to truly believe.

The other issue Arsene now has is that Per is speaking out, and he can’t do anything about it. Kind of felt like we were getting that with Koscielny who has looked majorly fucked off all season.

‘I’m playing shit, so what, you gonna drop me? No? Thought so’

The whole approach is boring for the fans and it’s boring for the players. I also thought the comments about how good he feels Lukas is were interesting. Basically, ‘no one finishes like Lukas, so why doesn’t he get games? Full interview here, well worth a read.

Wenger’s comments weren’t exactly inspiring. They didn’t feel like they’d come from a man who knows what’s going wrong.

‘Until now we have been relatively consistent in our attitude but not efficient enough offensively or defensively.

I don’t understand the comment really. He’s basically saying we’ve been rubbish. Where’s the deeper insight into this? This is why you need Jaqui Oatley style reporting. Why have we looked poor Arsene? What are you doing to solve these issues?  Do you believe there is any truth in what Per has said? Do you worry about player motivation?

Ultimately, as many people have pointed out, we’ll come good because of the strength of our players. Sad thing is, we could be pushing for major trophies if we had a manager who could steer them in a more intelligent way. We have all the ingredients to be a very good side. We have all the talent to be incredible on our day. Trouble is, the pilot is more hot air balloons than F-22 fighter jet (that’s the most advanced plane I know). Which is sad, but we have to accept it and hope that he leaves early and hope that the players can find something within to change things…

… because that’s my final point. If at a managerial level, things are going to shit. If the people above you aren’t driving a vision because they don’t know how to. You work around it. Simple as that. There’s no excuse here. Sitting on your hands, waiting for the crash is irresponsible and weak. So here is what I’m saying… why aren’t the senior players taking control? Why don’t they have an after hours session. Why aren’t they educating the players? Why aren’t they driving the tactics, the analysis?

As weak as embarrassing as I think the management is… I find the players weakness almost as concerning. Adams, Keown and Bould wouldn’t have had it in their day. Where is that spirit now?

Maybe that’s part of the problem, Wenger doesn’t sign players with domineering personalities.

Shame. Insecurity at its most self-destructive.

P.S. Take a read of this article from Billy Beane. The only bit that ruins the article is that he says you build a great culture through winning, then he cites the reason he’d buy stock in Arsenal is that we pay down debts. Regardless, the lessons in there are not heeded by Arsenal.

If you like what I write, catch me on Twitter here…

655 Responses to “Will the real leaders, please stand up?”

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  1. Zacharse


    the criticisms you have of him can be doubled and tripled when looking at any other offensive player. right now he’s a one man team.
    RVPs ‘nooooo’ when wenger subbed arshavin against man u springs to mind. i can see sanchez doing something similar when sanogo is fit and gets put in in place of anyone really. i think alexis will probably put up 30+ goals this season
    without him in the team how do we beat sunderland?

  2. MidwestGun

    N5 –
    Yep… and they were quality goals. Well the pk, not so much but RM I think just love playing a possession team because their counter attacking was unbelievable. Lightning fast and rarely did they make a wrong passs on the counter. That’s why I think they can beat Bayern in the final of CL if they both get there. God forbid we draw them. That would be frightening, I think.

  3. N5

    Keyser, have you watched them all?

    I haven’t but even if they’d played 8 games against the bottom 8, there has been 755 minutes that Bravo managed to keep a clean sheet and that’s a club record by quite some distance, the amount before that was 560 and anyway you look at that, its impressive.

    Now I could compare each match, each goalie played to get their individual records, by the records will only show that as of 2014 Bravo holds the record for time without conceding, regardless of teams played.

  4. Keyser

    Zacharse – Lol I probably didn’t explain it well enough, you know how everyone either calls Theo limited or uses his stats to judge him, right now Sanchez’s work-rate and his stats are qualiteh, but I think like Van Persie he can build other aspects of his game, to do that I think we need others back and better team understanding, Sanchez has adapted well, but the difference between him and Van Persie is that Van Persie was playing well enough to make others look better to.

    Are we playing that well as a team ? No, but I think 2011-12 Van Persie would’ve helped in that respect far more.

  5. N5

    MWG, it had to be Ronaldo to break Bravo’s record though didn’t it. I bet he loved that. I love the Clasico, but this one felt kind of tame compared to usual.

    Even with that loss, Barca are still 4 points clear of Real. Athletico have only lost one, you have Savilla and Valencia mixing it up with them as well. It could be a very interesting league this year.

  6. Keyser

    N5 – Lol I’ve watched a few of them and they weren’t particularly impressive, were probably quite lucky to not concede. I’ll record the highlights of the Classico and watch it back.

  7. N5

    Mid, sorry I meant the players towards each other, there is normally a lot more kicks and digs behind the refs back and the only clear one I saw, was the one that Ronaldo got a yellow for at the end.

  8. Relieable sauce

    Sanchez looks unbreakable (insert predictable tiresome joke). Playing at sea level means he is basically inhaling Jewish chicken soup….

  9. MidwestGun

    Chicken soup….. mmmm Afraid to ask.., but is that’s what’s in the reliable
    sauce? Lol.

    Speaking of which I should get dinner. 75 and sunny in the Midwest today. More of the same tomorrow. Living the dream. 😀

    Catch y’all tomorrow to watch the 2 teams I hate most on the planet play each other.

  10. Relieable sauce


    It symbolises many different things to many different people, basically its whatever you want it to be…

  11. Keyser


    “I’m not suited to Bolton or Blackburn, I would be more suited to Inter or Real Madrid,” Allardyce said. “It wouldn’t be a problem to me to go and manage those clubs because I would win the double or the league every time. Give me Manchester United or Chelsea and I would do the same, it wouldn’t be a problem. It’s not where I’m suited to, it’s just where I’ve been for most of the time.

  12. tunnygriffboy

    Surely the reason we spent 35 million on Sanchez was in the hope he ‘d get 20 plus goals in a season ? He’s doing brilliantly but I think there’s more to come from him and the team. We well well below par atm. Can’t wait to see Alexis and Walcott have a tidy run of games with Ozil.

  13. Relieable sauce

    I guess we’ll never know, of course…

    Be hilarious if they finished above us though wouldn’t it?…wouldn’t it???

    Russel Brand may well try to fuck big samuel live on tele.
    !!! : /

  14. Arsenewonga

    So what are all the akbs ..the season ticket holders..the silver members…the jcls going to do? Includes you Pedro ….are you all going to vent your spleen at the incumbent fucking bellends or are you going to sit on your fucking hands and cry about the state of the club on a fucking blog?…. Grow some and out the fucker…..out the cunt now .

  15. ughelligunner

    There is a reason why football people, fans and the board still trust wenger. Flavors of the years have come and gone in Laudrop, Avb, Moyes, Bredan, etc.

    Before the board will sack wenger, i believe his resolve will be tested for him to be allowed to get the best players to see if he would win the league/champions league.. Making the top 4 and still saving money for the owner is like a deal made in heaven.

    Failing to make the top four once wouldn’t shake him or the board cos it will be like once in sixteen years..

    So we should support the team and wait for now, because repeating the challenges of the manger/team everyday without it getting any effect its like insanity.

  16. Jeff

    “There is a reason why football people, fans and the board still trust wenger. Flavors of the years have come and gone in Laudrop, Avb, Moyes, Bredan, etc. ”

    If this is an argument to stick with what you have in case it goes tits up, there are examples also where clubs have changed their manager and did considerably better. It all boils down to what you are happy with. You my friend are happy with fourth – that is plain as the nose on your face and no amount of pussy-footing with words is going to hide that.

  17. Bamford13


    He’s had plenty of time to “get the best players,” but he has failed to do so. He has had two years to sign a class CF and CDM but has instead stuck with Giroud, Sanogo (!), Arteta, Flamini.

    He has given us 6-0, 5-1, 6-3 humiliations.

    His squads are woefully under-athletic, injury-prone and devoid of tactical instruction.

    We already are a disaster.

    If any new manager had performed as badly as Wenger has over the past 3-4 years, you’d be saying we should never have let Wenger go.

    He’s a fucking disaster and he must go ASAP.

    Even if it meant a year of transition, at least we’d be moving forward. With Wenger we are going nowhere, save backwards.

    Wenger out.

  18. Wallace

    as shit as we’ve been we’re only 3pts behind City. Chelsea and Southampton are the only teams can actually be pleased with how they’ve started.

  19. Rosicky@Arsenal


    Tough Arsenal are playing poor these days but this could be an occasional bad patch which comes for every team and every player.I hope this will end soon.

    Can anyone check out the players stats if they are not putting there full efforts behind the ball.

    As far as team stats are shown Arsenal are always ahead in posession even inthe chelsea match which v lost.But atleast it shows the players are with the manager and are putting there efforts.

    i hope its just a matter of time that the team finds its rythm.

    The rumors of rift in the team, ozils rumors, sanchez not getting well along in the team are purely media inventions imo.

    Ozils statement the other day that he is going nowhere dismisses all these media rumors.


  20. Thank you and goodnight

    No worries fellas. Apparently Mr Wenger is on the case to finding his successor, as he doesn’t want the debacle at United to happen to us. Difference is Mr Wenger, United had to find a manager to replace one of the most successful managers in history, who’s total haul of EPL titles, CL trophies will probably never be surpassed. You on the other hand have to find a manager that will buy injury prone players, overload the team with midfield dwarves, not spend any money and if he does spend money, money spent on players we don’t need. His training, scouting methods will be straight from the age of dinosaurs and be tactically inept. Don’t know about wenger but I could find 1000 managers who meet that criteria.

  21. Rosicky@Arsenal


    Wenger siging this season are smart enough.


    all are good signings imo

    If you Are not happy with these signings then i thnk u never will be.

  22. Thank you and goodnight


    Aside from Sanchez all those other signings were reactive signings as opposed to pro active. He didn’t exactly strengthen the squad depth wise as can be seen with the current predicament we find ourselves in.

    Debuchy for Sagna
    Chambers for Jenkinson
    Ospina for flappy
    Welbeck signed last minute as Sagna is shit and giroud out for 3 months.

  23. Thank you and goodnight


    The season before we were light squad wise, which was one of the reasons injuries fucked up our season last year. He hasn’t actually rectified those issues AGAIN this year, as good as our new signings are.

  24. reality check

    Welbeck wasn’t for sanogo. He was for giroud mid term. Wenger said publicly he wanted welbeck on loan.


    Welbeck for giroud. When Girouds fit. Welbeck is his backup trust me.

    So Wenger still hasn’t addressed the WC striker issue. To be fair he tried. Kind of. A little bit. But not really. Remember £40M+1???

    @rosicky. If you look at who we brought in compared to who we sold relative to who we’ve needed. The only progress really is Ozil and Sanchez. Every other problem we had still exists.

    How many diminutive technical No.10s do we really need?

  25. Rosicky@Arsenal

    Reality check

    How many ozils and sanchez u need in a team ?

    If u are talking about 15 players of ozil and sanchez calibre it will need a fortune.

    Only city and chelsea can spend that amount of money with there oil money.

  26. tunnygriffboy

    Could really do with Giroud at the moment. He’s useful when opponents play a deep line. When’s the last time Welbeck played 13 games in 7 weeks ? ( includes England games )

  27. Thank you and goodnight


    But we’re not talking about 15 ozil’s or Sanchez. We’re talking about buying good players and playing them in their specific roles not square pegs round holes as is always the case with Wenger. You telling me in the world of football there is no one out their better than flamini or arteta? 6 transfer windows and he still hasn’t addressed DM issue.

  28. Rosicky@Arsenal

    Keeping the likes of Suarez and James Rodriguez is also not easy with the riches of Real Barca and Bayern mopping up such players every year from the market.

    Liverpool was unable to keep Suarez for more than 2 years despite getting CL.

    We already hearing rumors of Ramsey being a target for the spanish clubs.

    The market is ao volatile keeping your good players is not an easy task imo

  29. Wallace


    sure Welbeck’s fine. he’s 23 now. at that age he should be able to handle the games. game might be a little faster than 10yrs ago, but don’t recall Henry or Vieira getting rested much.

  30. Rosicky@Arsenal


    i think wenger thinks Arteta is well enough for the CDM so he dosnt buys one.

    Remember v kept the most clean sheets last year mayb this cud be the reason wenger didn’t bought a CDM


    he had made Khadeira as his target this year and v may see that he joins this January.

    Wenger being a shrewd business man spends conservatively as the history suggests.

  31. TheBayingMob

    Let’s not let player arguments cloud the issue. Wenger has spent money and bought in expensive and expansive players. He ruined Arshavin. He is ruining Özil. With money and spending we look worse every week. The football is not even good to watch. We are going backwards but yet still the majority back Wenger. It’s astonishing.

  32. Thank you and goodnight

    @The Baying Mob

    Yet every season we’re told to be patient and things will right themselves. It’s astonishing I agree. This time next year and the year after we will be having same disagreements and told to be patient.


    How many ex pros, media analysts, journalists and fans have said for a couple of years now that arteta is past it? If everyone else can see this but not the man on 8 million a year, then what exactly does wenger bring to the table?

  33. Rosicky@Arsenal

    Thr Baying mob

    why everyone blames wenger for ruining Arshavin.

    if Arshavin was a good player why he is not around these days?

    why is he not sellected for his country. ?

    Does wenger plays ozil as FB?

    He played him as AM last year through out as far as i remember.

    How many players in todays team are being played out of position?

    I dont see this as a valid argument.

  34. Thank you and goodnight


    Wenger is not a shrewd business man that is a myth as is his supposed talent for bringing youth in. How many average players have been put on good wages, way above their talent levels that make it hard to move them on? He has pissed money away on average not good enough for Arsenal players, yet people still believe myth that he’s shrewd. Gone are the days were he’d buy an Anelka and make huge profit for the club on selling him on