Aston Villa are 3 years ahead of Arsenal

by .


… and welcome to a wet and foggy edition of Le Grove, the Arsenal blog that will remind you of the weather before every post.

Today we have FA Cup day. Oh what a day. We’re defending champions. Get that? Defending bloody champions. We’re playing Hull. They’re defending second placers.

I don’t know about the statistics, but I feel Hull City earn more live TV game time than any other team in the Premier League. They’re the live team every week. Such a bland outfit. They’re the modern day equivalent of Middlesborough. They shouldn’t be either, Steve Bruce bought pretty well in the summer. They just are though.

So today should be interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, we have Theo Walcott back in full contention for his first start in about 600 years. He really does need to be treated with kid gloves. If he breaks down again, you’d have to ask questions as to whether he has a suitable future at Arsenal. You can’t take half a season off every season if you’re an important player for a club. Don’t get me wrong, I think a lot of what goes wrong with Theo is down to the way we work with him… but he hardly boasts the robustness of someone like Sanchez.

Another player we’ll see join the party is David Ospina. A player who was injured, then returned too early and injured again, then out for three weeks, then out for eternity. He rejoins the first team with a massive opportunity. My problem with Ospina is that though he had a major World Cup, he does come from a very average club in France and he is a very small keeper. It’s like we purposefully didn’t sign a keeper to challenge Chezzer. In the same way we signed Viviano because he had average statistics in Italy we thought we could improve…

If he comes good today and plays a blinder, I’d expect him to keep his spot. Chezzer has been average all season. No question about it. His positioning is poor. His decision making consistently puts us in trouble. He very rarely bails us out of a mess. It’s amazing how many Arsenal fans don’t pick up on this. There is a hierarchy of criticism at the club. If you take selfies, you have to have at least 10 games grace before anyone will pay any attention to your failings. If you look like one of our greatest left backs (but one we don’t really like now) you’re totally immune. If you look like Phil Neville, fu*k man, you’re in deep shit. Sneeze out of turn and we’ll kill you.

The most exciting thing that could happen today would be handing Chuba (I always shout ‘Shaaaaaba’ in my head) Akpom a start. Outside Wenger putting Podolski out to pasture in Milan, the other interesting move was shifting on Yaya Sanogo. Geoff (Le Grove Geoff) always says that no one ever pulls Wenger when he slinks substandard love children out the back door. Yaya Sanogo was never up to scratch, a million miles off the pace of even a Championship striker, yet we have him lining up against Bayern Munich and in other games where he can barely run 3 yards without falling over like a stack of baked bean cans in an Adam Sandler movie.

Anyway, the offshoot is that the player who has looked better from day dot is in first team contention. I really like this kid. Is it partly to do with his British name, sure, I love it. It’s also down to the how much better he looks than any other child striker we’ve brought through lately.  I think he’s the fastest at the club over ten metres, which means he’s winning over Sanogo already because he can stand up for ten metres worth of sprinting. He looks focused on the pitch, like he’s there to do a job… not like he’s been invited onto the pitch like some sort of shit box Mars Bar TV ad realised. He’s also pretty calm on the ball, he doesn’t give up and he runs defenders hard. I think he’s a real talent. One I’d love to kick on and do well. One that has ten games grace before I lead the call for him to go out on loan.

It’d be nice if we could bring in some other players, maybe give Hayden a go at centre back. Perhaps he could throw Zelalem into the mixer and give Cazorla a breather?

I guess the thing here is that we don’t have good players coming through the ranks at the moment. Have we ever been so bereft of young talent under Wenger? I mean, we don’t even seem to have talent that we could palm off to Sunderland at the moment. The players we put on the bench aren’t Premiership quality. I guess maybe a byproduct of having very little success over the years is that the youth talent doesn’t want to move to us anymore. When we kicked into project youth, the memory of one of the greatest Premiership sides of all time was fresh. Now, who’d want to up sticks and move to a team that plays for top four?

Arsene may have reframed success to a bunch of the Arsenal fans, but you can’t reframe it to footballers who don’t buy into the bollocks.

Interesting to read the interview from Tom Fox who has  headed over to Aston Villa to be their CEO in the summer. The comments are all very future gazing and in a similar tone to what Ivan says at Arsenal. But you can see that he has total control over the set up over there. He’s supposed to be very good with an all American ruthless approach to getting things done.

There were some cornflakes guffawed over the table at some of his comments about a brand being about more than simply winning. I think this is where fans become too caught up in the lack of success at Arsenal. Our issues don’t stem from not having enough ‘winner’ at the club. We have World Cup winners, La Liga winners, 4th Place Trophy winners… plenty of winner You can’t built a global brand around being ‘winners’ because as soon as you’re not winning, you have nothing. The greatest clubs in the world are about so much more. Arsenal, for me, are a brand that is centred around belonging, community and closeness. We’re the most accessible elite club in England.

Our problems centre around culture. Arsene Wenger wants to be a winner. As anyone who has been around him will tell you, ‘nobody feels it like Arsene’… the issue he has is that he wants to be the man who runs everything. So he doesn’t encourage anyone to think for themselves. Dominant leaders stifle subordinate thinking because they don’t listen or they ignore what’s put forward. Our culture is clearly failing at the moment because we don’t have experts taking care of all the parts that make up the machine. If we changed that and put expertise in charge of each area, we’d be so much better as a club.

This was really interesting…

“What we’ve done on the football side is make Sean Kimberley head of the academy. He’s also hired a head of recruitment for the academy.

“Paddy Reilly is our director of recruiting overall at Bodymoor Heath and Paddy has hired a whole new scouting network on a full-time basis to cover the whole world.

“I hope that will help us identify talent internationally.

“We’ve also hired someone on the data analysis side from Opta so we can make better use of the data to make decisions on the back of it.

“The plan is simple, to monetise this football club within the global sponsorship market to a greater degree and then to spend that money as efficiently and effective as possible by investing in everything at Bodymoor Heath.”

All the parts of the puzzle we should be addressing. The main difference here is that Tom Fox will hire these people, then make sure they’re utilised in the right fashion. I have my doubts whether you’ll get a two heads of fitness issue over at Villa Park. Will all the above mean they’ll be winning the league in 5 years time? Doubtful, but it’ll put them in a position where they have an infrastructure that will allow them to compete more readily.

Villa, from a control perspective are at least 3 years ahead of us… sadly.

Right, enjoy the game today, sign up to our mailing list below and have a bloody good day!

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429 Responses to “Aston Villa are 3 years ahead of Arsenal”

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  1. Live by the River

    Nat West Crank……do you know anything about this soccerball game matey ? Ha ha clearly not!!

    BTW where’s you bum chum Post Code Boy ATM ?

    Clearly nowhere near N5 ha ha!!

    Please stop haunting OUR forum now

    Just set up a Whats App group for you and our NON AFC football chums

    *blue touch paper walks*

  2. Masterstroke

    Live By The River

    Midwest always seems quite knowledgeable about Arsenal and the Premier League. We’ve got a lot of good supporters over in the US ( check out:, so just because he’s not from “round here” doesn’t mean he’s a fool.

  3. MidwestGun

    MS –
    Cheers….. but honestly I’ve been on here for years now. River doesn’t bother me. As to Johnty our issues go way back. I let people judge for themselves who is knowledgeable about what.

  4. Live by the River


    It’s a good point you make BUT the guy is a troll who has clinkers like Post Code Boy hanging on his arse that are killing LG with their booooring posts…..

    I have no problem with US fans, the more the merrier, but hey let’s get them educated into the English game and keep them talking about AFC And NOT the weather in Hastings or Chatta-fookin-nooga!!

  5. Bamford10

    Can anyone tell me how they determine which team will host a given FA Cup match? The games almost always seems to be at the smaller club’s stadium, but I doubt this is the criteria.


  6. MidwestGun

    Rivers posts are basically this every time. Summarizing. This place is sad. I hate N5. Wenger out.

    But he thinks everyone else is boring. That’s all you really need to know about him. Oh and he doesn’t know what a troll is. Perhaps, he doesn’t own a mirror.

  7. Keyser

    Campbell wasn’t running that fast, Podolski actually has a decent burst of pace, it might just be experience/gametime, I think both would’ve been off balance, Podolski would’ve known to put his foot through it or take a touch get it out from between his feet.

  8. Goondawg

    Cleverer teams will have a gameplan to take advantage of Sanchezs running, use passing triangles to tire him out quick. Its pointless having one man pressing when the rest are half-arsed.

    Ospina looks like a midget in goal

    JC should have finished, but Podolski would never have made that run in the first place

  9. MidwestGun

    Keyser –
    Hmmm maybe. Don’t think Pods would have even got in that position. But I do think if he had he would have scored. Speculating anyway. Need to start putting some of these chances away.

  10. Goondawg

    Pod’s weakness is his lack of link up play, whenever he starts it’s effectively like playing with ten men at large periods of the game. Only for him to pop up with his left peg thundercunt of a shot

  11. Bamford10


    He’s neither all that clever of a player nor that clever of a passer, so it’s reasonable to ask whether he intended to meg the defender with that pass. He may be talented, but he’s not the type who does clever things like that.

    I know you’re a fan of his, but you should be more reasonable about his attributes.

  12. azed

    Sanchez can’t catch a break. 1st time playing through the winter yet Arsene doesn’t give him a rest.

    BFG strikes!!!

  13. Keyser

    Our weakness is our control in midfield and our link up play, we’re nowhere near even last year, and we weren’t that impressive then either.

  14. Bamford10

    p.s. the British commentator I’m listening to definitely didn’t think he meant to do that. I was inclined to think he did.

  15. Leedsgunner

    Why is Sanchez starting? Is Wenger upset that he is off the injury table?

    Sanchez is the new Özil as far as Wenger is concerned.

    He’ll be run into the ground and physically broken until he is allowed to rest. Then the Wenger apologists will duly line up to hail Sanchez as a useless crock… just like they did for Özil.

    Man management at its best. NOT.

  16. Goondawg

    Rosicky playing sick. Love his quick feet and directness, none of that plodding around peddled by some other players

    Ospina fills me with much more reassurance than Schezney ever did

    Theo rusty

  17. Marko

    To be fair I do like Coquelin but obviously we need better at least two in there much better but I wouldn’t mind him being in the squad next season in place of Flamini, Arteta or Diaby. Those 3 need to be rid of imo we need upgrades on them

  18. Bamford10

    Walcott does not look a step slower, which is good to see, and his pace in behind and his intent definitely give us something that we lack without him.

  19. NYCgooner

    Was just gonna say the coq has been solid so far. Still think he would be a good squad player to have around.

  20. london gunner


    Your first mistake is giving any British commentators credibility. They are by far and large morons.

    His an extremely clever player, with the timing of his runs and his predatory movement. When his fit he has some of the best attacking stats for a reason.

    You can’t be dumb at this level of the game, you can’t be dumb to have the best stats for a winger in the league.

    But you are correct his not particularly known for his passing though its fairly standard premier league passing certainly not below the average.

  21. Keyser

    Coquelin works his ass off, he’s just not used to passing his way out deep for us, he and Frimpong used to sit behind Wilshere, Emmanuel-Thomas, Lansbury and just clean up in the Youth Cup winning side.

  22. Goondawg

    Campbells fitness needs a bit tweaking. But once he is up to speed with minutes and experience. I for one, would like to see him benefit from Pods departure. Guy is looking slick and pulling off the skills. Nicking the ball off Sanchez, no less

  23. Leedsgunner

    Coq is our “new” DM signing isn’t he?

    I suspect Wenger either will say

    1. There isn’t enough quality or

    2. If “X” begins to do well and become a success, Wenger will duly come put and say he tried to sign “X”.

  24. Roaaary

    Is the game plan to bore hull to sleep by passing between mertesacker and chambers. I’d love to see their passing stats!

    Hull are here for the taking – we should be looking to go wide and create space

  25. Bamford10

    I like that Campbell tries to create things and is willing to take risks, but at times I think it’s clear that his quality isn’t quite up to level yet. Like that first-time hit he took a few minutes back: that was going 5-6 feet wide.

    I like him, though.

  26. Goondawg

    Lol nice to see Wenger has been practicing different set pieces in the training ground, thats one far post, one near post, a ground pass to the first man and short corners too.

  27. Bamford10

    Coq works hard and is decent at breaking things up, but I don’t think he’s good enough on the ball to be more than a third option at moment.

  28. Radio Raheem

    I don’t know what Shearer is on about but Sanchez has just be ok this match.

    Would be nice if someone whispered to Bullard to tuck his shirt in and may be button up too? He’s on telly not in a night club the nonce.

  29. Cesc Appeal

    Coquelin is having quite a solid game defensively, his ability in possession in questionable sometimes.

    Certainly seems better than Flamini, I just hope Wenger doesn’t cite him as reason not to buy a CDM. We know how he loves to do that,

  30. Dissenter

    Theo is like a little kitten on the field.
    I know he’s returning back from an injury but gosh we treat him likes he’s still 16 years old.
    He’s been as injury prone as Diaby yet he gets little attention for that.

  31. Goondawg

    Keyser he looks like a male giggalo. Looks like hes gurning a bit as well. Pretty certain hes done a line before coming on

  32. london gunner


    “Walcott rusty
    Should not appeR second half”

    Mate wouldn’t that be the best time to play him then? If a player is rusty you have to play them into form.. or they will stay rusty

    Also What’s the best time to play a rusty player but against Hull one of the worse teams in the league..

  33. Leedsgunner


    Put your Wenger glasses on and suddenly Coquelin will suddenly transform into Busquets! Guaranteed!

  34. Goondawg


    I agree with you, Sanchez has lost the ball a dozen times, with his sloppy passes and audacious switching of the ball, or just purely holding on to the ball too long. As brilliant as he is at winning the ball back, and his never-stop-running attitude. He would be an absolute beast if attuned on to his team mates wave length

  35. Leedsgunner

    Certainly seems better than Flamini, I just hope Wenger doesn’t cite him as reason not to buy a CDM. We know how he loves to do that…

    Cesc Appeal

    Mate you and I both know that is EXACTLY what he’s going to do.

  36. kwik fit

    I wonder was the half time team talk …come on guys keep this going!!!

    Or what you guys at tonight……really sweet

  37. london gunner


    I think its because Sanchez realises his team mates are so shit compared to the ones he had at Barca. Instead of passing he thinks why bother better to go it alone.

    If you see him at Barcelona he wasn’t actually known for sloppy passing or losing possession of the ball. Suddenly he comes to Arsenal and it becomes a problem.

  38. Radio Raheem


    You’re right. I think he has been like this most of the season but I can’t remember him losing it as often for Barca or Chile, so hopefully it’s him adapting.

  39. Al

    This is what I hate about wenger. ..He can see how the game is going but has done nothing to make a change to it… I mean a sub would help. You can see Theo is struggling so take him off

  40. Bamford10

    Yeah, Coquelin’s passing just isn’t good enough. Too many errant passes, esp. when he tries any pass longer than 10 yards.

  41. Roaaary

    Walcott about 40% today. I can understand now why he hasn’t played more recently.

    I think Sanchez needs to come off or go wide. He’s not getting in behind

  42. Bamford10

    Again, Campbell lacks just a little quality on that pass. That earlier miss — where he got caught between shooting and passing — was bad.

    Theo rusty. To be expected. Is dangerous in behind, though.

  43. MidwestGun

    JC is lacking on final ball but he’s giving us a bit of width and pace on the left we haven’t had in ages. Would be sharper had he played more.
    And he defends.

  44. Arsene's Nurse

    We moan about the scouts and what not but everyone has to hold their hands up and say, “what a cracking buy Sanchez is”.

    I only hope we can build on him because he is outstanding.

  45. Keyser

    Seriously what do you lot watch ? We gave Hull the ball, and we created the more dangerous chances, we’ve probably never played this team before we’re a goal up, and we were lacking that extra little edge that we’ve just seen from Sanchez.