What #Arsenal can learn from war strategists

by .


What’s cracking my darlings?

So today, I head into work. Tonight, I head into St. Louis… home of Stan.

I have a banner in my bag, emblazoned with…

‘Please Stan would you have a rethink about the way we approach transfers, also, could you kindly tell us why Arsene Wenger is happy to sit on a tonne of cash that seems to serve no one but your good self’

I also have a banging deck to show my client out there. I mean, we can go into the details of run an online publication, but I don’t want to thrill you into a work seat accident no amount of Bounty kitchen roll will save you from.


Time to start thinking of things to write about. It’s the big one. This Saturday, we take on the very shaky Stoke City. Those dirty buggers have some good players. I said recently that they are a case study of Premiership good times centred around spunking cash. They’ve been spending money like it serves no purpose sitting in a bank account.

Hell, I’d say they’ve spent money like they’re trying to improve themselves?

Bojan, Affelay and Shaquiri are the obvious stars they’ve signed lately. An Arsenal fan said…


Look, we were all interested in Shaquiri a few seasons ago. I wouldn’t have vomited a river of value bile if we’d signed him. He’d probably offer quite a lot to the squad if I’m honest. Versatile, fast and broken by Pep saying he’s utter turkey gobbler.

Point with Stoke, is they’re investing. They’re buying smartly. They’re shooting for gold.

I mean, that’s what football is all about, right?

I was reading something too highbrow for me on the plane, there was a reference to Nicolo Machiavelli and one of his gangster pals keeping winning troops motivated…

As regards action, he ought above all things to keep his men well organized and drilled, to follow incessantly the chase, by which he accustoms his body to hardships, and learns something of the nature of localities, and gets to find out how the mountains rise, how the valleys open out, how the plains lie, and to understand the nature of rivers and marshes, and in all this to take the greatest care. Which knowledge is useful in two ways. Firstly, he learns to know his country, and is better able to undertake its defence; afterwards, by means of the knowledge and observation of that locality, he understands with ease any other which it may be necessary for him to study hereafter; because the hills, valleys, and plains, and rivers and marshes that are, for instance, in Tuscany, have a certain resemblance to those of other countries, so that with a knowledge of the aspect of one country one can easily arrive at a knowledge of others. And the prince that lacks this skill lacks the essential which it is desirable that a captain should possess, for it teaches him to surprise his enemy, to select quarters, to lead armies, to array the battle, to besiege towns to advantage.

Philopoemen, Prince of the Achaeans, among other praises which writers have bestowed on him, is commended because in time of peace he never had anything in his mind but the rules of war; and when he was in the country with friends, he often stopped and reasoned with them: “If the enemy should be upon that hill, and we should find ourselves here with our army, with whom would be the advantage? How should one best advance to meet him, keeping the ranks? If we should wish to retreat, how ought we to set about it? If they should retreat, how ought we to pursue?” And he would set forth to them, as he went, all the chances that could befall an army; he would listen to their opinion and state his, confirming it with reasons, so that by these continual discussions there could never arise, in time of war, any unexpected circumstances that he could deal with.

So the TL:DR: Keep your troops prepared.

I kind of feel this is our issue now. Jose Mourinho does this so well. In the world of story telling, tension is important to keep people interested. Mourinho is the master of the subplot, makes sure there’s always something for media to focus on, but he also does very well at communicating story lines for the players that motivate.

Arsenal need to be in a battle this season, even when they feel they’re not. Something we’ve been guilty of over the years is Arsene Wenger believing the battle has been won before we start. Prince of Achaeans would not tolerate this. He’d not have his soldiers coming back from pillage session at the next village laughing about how desperately dead behind the eyes Shaquiri looks in his press shots.

He’d have them focused on the subplot. He’d have the Arsenal players thinking about all the ways in which Stoke could embarrass them. He’d be creating subplots in the press, ramping up pressure on high spending Mark Hughes. He’d be pulling Ramsey into a room reminding him of that dark day they tried to take his leg in a move that was not of honour. He’d be making sure that the players felt a million dollars even though recruitments were not coming.

He’d be prepared.

This season, Arsene Wenger has left us underprepared to compete. But, as has been shown over the many years of sporting achievement, what you lack in playing staff, can often be made up with in smarts. Take Diego Simeone over at Atletico Madrid, or Juventus last season reaching the Champions League final on a very, very low spend and despite being part of the 4th best league in Europe.

Do we have a better tactical plan of action? Are we utilising data to the best of its abilities. Now, I’ve seen plenty of bad data being used by Arsenal folk online to prove the manager was right about not signing anyone. How are we using data and driving insight that has context geared around  it? How are we grinding out the patterns that we can shake to our advantage?

Fitness is the big one this year. What’s our plan for making sure our slender squad doesn’t break every 2 minutes. We’ve already had a nightmare with WELBZ who is out until next year. A real shame. But don’t blame the medical staff. They give the diagnosis, it’s up to the club to act on it. You’ve got to stop blaming the doctors for the car crash they’re treating (unless they were driving the car). Point is, what’s the plan to stop injury prone players like Jack and Danny (cockney rhyming slang right there) from picking up injuries.

Anyway, if Shad can recover players quicker and Arsene can make sure he rotates properly so the players aren’t broken by December, we’ll be in good shape.

We’ll learn this season whether Wenger can listen. He has all his players fit right now. If he breaks them by Christmas, we’ll know that last seasons renaissance with fitness was because he only had his keys player for half a season. Fingers crossed.

Finally, motivation. The quote from above. How is Wenger planning to keep the boys focused? How does he bring out the nasty? How does he make them all play through steel reinforced walls to win the major honours? Wenger isn’t a man motivator like a lot of the other more personal coaches. He needs to find something, because I’m not sure, with this group of players, the…

‘Guys, can we all sit down for two minutes, and reflect on what it means to be a top class athlete chasing a two goal deficit’

‘Right, go out there and have fun. Remember to wave to your Dad, Theo.’

Having great team spirit is fabulous. But, if that just means they all have a laugh together, it’s not enough. People getting along isn’t productive unless they’re all challenging each other to be better. Great team spirit from 2002 is someone telling Patrick Vieira to stop falling asleep on the pitch. It’s a full on bust up in the changing room when you’re not winning. It’s each player fight themselves everyday to be a part of that starting 11.

If we can’t have new players, we’re going to have to win by being smarter than the rest.

Question is, what’s going to change to bring about those extra points?

Over to you Arsene.

338 Responses to “What #Arsenal can learn from war strategists”

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  1. tom

    The first Graham teams are my favorite ever.

    Davis, Rocastle, Thomas in the middle. Merson up front with Smith.
    Famous back four but with O’Leary and Keown as back up.

    Anfield and Old Trafford the venues of they greatest moments. Though cup battles at the Lane are legend too.
    Oh my days…

  2. tom

    So much of the failure you allude to is just the normal stuff all teams go through.
    Go to any other team’s blog and listen to the teeth knashing.

    arsenal compete in the toughest league in the world where you never have enough players and always too many games.
    Arsenal’s unmatched consistency proves Arsene’s quality.
    Just accept he knows more, trust him and sit back and enjoy the ride.

    There will be wins and losses too. It’s what being a fan is all about.

  3. MidwestGun

    Just accept he knows more, trust him and sit back and enjoy the ride.
    Polyanna bullshit… sorry…. but it is. If you can honestly say AW is doing everything in his power to compete for a League title then you are lieing.

  4. Follow the money

    Tom Arsenal are the fifth richest club in the world. All things considered we should also be the fifth best, no? But we aren’t. Are we? That’s where Wenger seriously underperformed IMO. If money is so important and a true barometer (which it usually is) we should be battling it out for the PL and making it to the semi finals of the CL

  5. tom

    Paul Davis. Mr Busy. AFC legend.
    Sweet and decent bloke and a superb midfielder.
    Remember when he smacked Cockerill?

    Top boy, eie

  6. MidwestGun

    arsenal compete in the toughest league in the world where you never have enough players and always too many games.
    So the answer is to ignore the transfer window and buy nobody to help with known injuries and chronically injured. Good one.

  7. Wallace

    Follow the money

    “Tom Arsenal are the fifth richest club in the world.”

    we’re the 4th richest club in England. then there’s Barca, Madrid, PSG & Bayern…we aint 5th.

  8. tom

    Hand on heart, I believe he feels he is doing all he can to run the club the best way he knows how to.
    I trust him and have explained the reasons why.
    You don’t. Your choice.
    I’ll enjoy the season more than you, I suspect.

  9. MidwestGun

    I’ll enjoy the season more than you, I suspect.
    Depends on how you look at it……. I’m pretty good at celebrating and I enjoy Arsenal football even if it’s analyzing our struggles. So either way I’ll enjoy myself.(that sounded wrong but whatever). And I seriously doubt your a bigger fan of Ozil than me.

  10. Gunner2301


    Great post I like the war analogy I dare say we’re not gonna be on a war footing anytime soon. Koi injured? Maybe we’ll hear next week that they were mistaken he was sold during the transfer window.

  11. tom

    West Ham result was a blip, Arsenal are masters at beating teams like West Ham.

    Completely agree. Surprised to hear you admit it.

  12. MuddyGooner

    Not sure if someone has already mentioned it but the Swiss coach is Vladimir Petrovic.
    Didn’t he play for us many moons ago ?

  13. N5

    “Try clearing porn history first.”

    That’ll take far to long the amount I’ve looked at, it’ll be quicker to put my laptop in a crusher.

  14. MidwestGun

    Tom –
    Haha … I don’t really have to pick holes do I. They are glaring and repetitive. Anyhow, I was a project manager,General manager, and a contractor before semi-retirement… so ya.. problem solving was what I did. So if your nature is to suspend belief in reality and to hope it works out… then ya. . We differ.

  15. Redtruth


    Wenger relegated and sacked by Nancy.
    Sacked by Monaco.
    Exiled to Japan.
    An undistinguished career rescued by Arsenal and given a platform from which he greatly benefitted through the presence of Bergkamp.

  16. tom

    Petrovich was brilliant for AFC.
    Real cult player.
    Loved him but not sure I’d recognize him if I saw him in the street.

  17. MidwestGun

    Tom –
    Gordon Ramsey. ., knows much more then me about cooking and preparing
    Food too but I don’t have to be a chef to know what good food looks and tastes like. Same with football.

  18. London gunner


    I was so confused by that vid mate looool.

    Just came on LG first time today first thing I saw was that.. Like why he posting that up…

  19. tom


    There may be some correlation between building houses and football teams. Can’t help feeling your professional life is not ideal qualification for second guessing Wenger.
    Still, apparently you find it an amusing past-time.

  20. MidwestGun

    Rspc –
    Ya… I’ll be 50 next year. Still young in my mind. Like to think I don’t look that old. Lol.

    Still work for extra cash and gambling money. Could work full time if needed. Stock market is making me consider it.

  21. R.S.P.C.Arsenal

    You may as well mid

    Use your experince to help nick a few quid…

    I was 50 couple years back … Don’t feel it most of the time however the bodywork getting a few dents even a panel beater couldn’t fix…

  22. MidwestGun

    Most accept Arsenal football is pretty tasty.
    See when you say stuff like that Tom.. it just makes you look pretty pollyanna. Nothing tasty about inability to score and meaningless possession.

  23. tom

    I love to try and figure out the football too.
    But, given I am too ignorant of many of the pertinent facts, when it comes to AFC, I’ll trust Wenger.
    Sometimes he let’s me down.
    Mostly he doesn’t.
    I know he puts the long term health of the club above instant success and I support that position.

  24. R.S.P.C.Arsenal


    You voted on new labour leader ?

    Or the labour candidate for mayor

    I voted for Jeremy an sadiq …
    Only thing puts me off is abbot being about
    Don’t trust her one bit royal blue earring pink scarf to me.

  25. MidwestGun

    know he puts the long term health of the club above instant success and I support that position.
    Hahaha well… there is long term. Then there is ridiculous like your crazy Uncle who hides stacks of cash under his mattress when he is filthy rich.

  26. tom


    We scored two goals less than Chelsea last season.
    So I think you are wrong.

    If I am Pollyanna you are Chicken little.

  27. Cesc Appeal


    Yeah exactly.

    That’s why for me it’s not a case of optimism of pessimism, it’s just realism based on a quick perusal of the past. It’s been 10 years worth of the same stuff now, same mistakes, same things we’re good at, same things we’re poor at, same things we’re really bad at.

    There’s much more resignation and exasperation now I think out there instead of anger. Sort of, this is Arsene’s Arsenal, this is the way it is.

  28. MidwestGun

    Tom –
    We didn’t score enough goals to finish above 3rd. Didn’t add anyone. In fact subtracted goals in Podolski leaving and Welbeck’s injury. Plus Wenger knew Wilshere and Rosicky would be out. What did he do? Cohesion.

    Told us cohesion and a great preseason would be the difference. … then starts off terribly losing to West Ham. That is the reality.

    Chicken little predicted disaster. I’m not predicting that. 3rd place probably.

  29. Redtruth

    Mistakes have been littered throughout Wenger’s career.

    Vivas 1999
    Dixon and Seaman 1999
    Dynamo Kiev 1999
    Galatasaray 2000
    Defensive blunders Fa Cup Final 2001
    Keown against Bolton 2003

    The list is endless

  30. MidwestGun

    Rosicky’s wonderstrike goal against Spuds a couple years ago was pretty tasty but the rest of the match was pretty untasty.
    There have been moments or games where we look like we could play fluid football then the second half it’s more of the same or vice versa. But I would have to agree consistently tasty football is a memory oftentimes.

  31. Barney75

    Talking of George Graham’s first teams, still the best match I’ve ever been too, maybe not for quality of football but for drama and atmosphere. Also happened to be the first time my old man took me to Highbury…beginners lu

    George Graham’s teams were


  32. tom

    Points win the league not goals.
    CFC only scored 2 more goals but earned 12 more points and ran away with it.
    A historically poor start meant no chance for AFC to catch them.
    But once Arsenal found form, they matched all their rivals step for step.
    I see reasons to be hopeful.
    Most fans were at the tail if last season.
    Now, for the single reason that Arsene didn’t buy an extremely pricey striker and midfielder for the reserves, its all hopeless.

    Hysteria is what it is, and most unbecoming.

  33. Drey


    I love to try and figure out the
    football too.
    But, given I am too ignorant of many
    of the pertinent facts, when it comes
    to AFC, I’ll trust Wenger.
    Sometimes he let’s me down.
    Mostly he doesn’t.
    I know he puts the long term health
    of the club above instant success and
    I support that position.

    haha Lol u do know many of the pertinent facts, you choose to ignore them cos of blind faith and not being able to admit Wenger should be given the boot. A man who cares for our long term health won’t jeopardize our big club status on the pitch, money in the bank trophies are not cherished by fans. Its not as if we are being paid afterall

  34. warchester

    Tom, you are right; it’s not the signings that are hampering Arsenal at the moment but Wenger’s tactics and player selection.

  35. tom

    Care to explain?

    AFC came third last season. Third most efficient team. Is that down to tactics and player selection?

    Wenger is shit at tactics, selection, transfers, motivation yet is the most consistent performer in the PL..
    How did that happen?

  36. MidwestGun

    Tom –
    So far we have 3 goals in 4 matches. 1 was actually intentional. Meanwhile, City have 10. You can take a look at resulting points. If you think we don’t need more goal scoring to win a title ummmm think again.

  37. tom

    Why do players who work with Wenger respect him so highly?
    Notable how few want to criticise him.
    Players that didn’t play or were too wasted to remember slag him but nobody else.

  38. jwl

    How excited you Americans being able to buy egg mcuffin after 10:30 am?

    I read news as part of my job and some clown is going to rock America by selling egg and bacon muffin all day. I wonder if pedro really knows how lucky he is to move to America now.

  39. warchester

    So you’re admitting Arsenal doesn’t spend enough for a club of their stature…and this lack of spending is what is the missing link then for them to challenge for 1st place. So in your words wenger actually fail to spend. Okay you’ve convinced me.

  40. tom

    Sure you are likely to win more at Barca or United.
    That does not diminish Wenger as a coach.
    Many of those players coaxed by pay and silver never played as well for anyone but Arsenal and Wenger.

  41. warchester

    Of course when you’re Manuel Almunia and you’re shit despite being played week in week out, you’ve played your best game cause you don’t even make the bench for other top clubs

  42. warchester

    “They may have more but they spend less.”

    implies that they use less resources to be able to finish 3rd. So if wenger is so great a manager why doesn’t he spend as appropriate for a club as big as arsenal to bridge the gap to 1st?

  43. warchester

    You’ve illuminated me tom. Thank you. At first I thought it was Wenger’s shit tactics but now it’s actually his transfer policy.

  44. Dissenter

    Harry Kane needs to get a face transplant.
    The kid wont be marketable with that face he has on.
    ..but wait, Rooney made a bundle, so who knows.

  45. tom

    I subscribe to the notion happy players play best.
    Wenger handles them with care and respect. Humanely. Is it wrong?

    LVG seems to have a different way but I see no reason to be an arsehole.

  46. MidwestGun

    Tom –
    Hmmmm I would say from human resources experience. ..it depends on the person or player. Some people operate better under pressure or a good kick up the backside. Not sure happiness is always relevant when trying to achieve a difficult outcome like constantly winning.

  47. R.S.P.C.Arsenal

    Tru dat mid

    Also mention tha dr Martin Luther king said in one of his last speeches asked Americans not to drink it due to the shocking working conditions of the workers ..
    They supplied ingredients to Germany whilst the war was on ,,,
    Loads more
    But as u say all big compAnies are like that

  48. jwl

    I just surprised by enthusiasm for all day egg mcmuffin. It is obviously good decision by mcdonalds. I stopped eating mcdonalds long time ago but four times a year I have their fries or egg bacon mcuffin depending on time of day. I wonder what their recipe is that got me hooked like addict.

  49. Gunner2301


    I remember I tried to eat a McDonald’s a few years ago and it felt like my body was rejecting it. Fuck knows what ingredients they use but I doubt it’s natural.

  50. tom

    I think you need to feel basically happy in your environment to excellent.
    Sure different personalities need different kinds of encouragement , but for the most part respect and courtesy are a good default.
    Above all, I think there needs to be consistancy. Then people know where they stand.
    Modern players are sophisticated and from many backgrounds.
    I don’t think the drill Sargent style works like it used to.

  51. jwl

    Is jeff sterling / soccer saturday still on in UK? Reading le grove during matches I not watching reminds me of soccer saturday.

  52. AngeAusArsenal

    Hey Middy, on a completely unrelated topic, how is the vibe stateside over Jarryd Hayne making the 49 ers squad? The press here in Aus has been unbelievable. Get on the #Hayneplane.

  53. tom

    Re Hayne,
    Not a lot of hype tbh. Made the local news sports segment the day he signed.
    Nothing much since.

    I hope he does great.

  54. MidwestGun

    Ange –
    Well.. The thing about Nfl coverage is its pretty regional until the season gets started so in my area it hasn’t been ramped up yet. But if he has a good season imagine it will be pretty big as I think the NFl would love to expand their global impact.

  55. jwl

    Good for Rooney, he was baller back in his salad days. I am sure everyone remembers goal against Seaman. He’s had great career.

  56. tom

    I’ll never forget Rooney’s debut.

    Still, despite all he achieved it still feels he didn’t really fulfil his potential.

  57. Cesc Appeal


    Thought he was very scrappy, makes bad decisions, hopefully that’s something he will iron out in time, though we said that with Walcott.

    Got all the ingredients, so just have to hope. Must say though, I wouldn’t play him on Saturday. Walcott, Giroud, Sanchez front line for me, we’re paying £140 000 a week, time we got some value for it.

  58. MidwestGun

    Cesc –
    Over summer felt Ox would be key to season. Still kind of feel that way. Altho, think it’s pretty much on Theo and Giroud now to step it up.
    Does Gabriel play for Brazil? They play USA tonight.

  59. mysticleaves


    am in! if you lose your change yours to Lord Coquelin for 2 weeks.

    sorry for the late reply. have been thoroughly busy

  60. Dissenter

    ‘Hey Middy, on a completely unrelated topic, how is the vibe stateside over Jarryd Hayne making the 49 ers squad? The press here in Aus has been unbelievable. Get on the #Hayneplane.”

    I followed the Jarryd Hayne story.
    The marketing people in the NFL are geniuses. There was no doubt the Aussie would make the cut.
    Australia is a big juicy market waiting to be picked for the NFL. I wont be surprised if the 49ers go an play on game in Sydney soon.

    Like middy said, this was a minor event by NFL standard. I doesn’t even measure on the scale stateside,even in the bay area, it was a minor story.

  61. MidwestGun

    Hmm I don’t get any ads. Think My tablet blocks those. I’m just happy Pedro got rid of those video ads that used to play at bottom of page and eat up my data plan on my mobile devices.

  62. Dissenter

    “Does Gabriel play for Brazil”

    He’s been consistently called up but I doubt he will play. There are some tested internationals ahead of him.
    I guess being called up is good enough for now, considering he is not even a starter at Arsenal. He’s highly regarded in Brazil. We got ourselves a good deal.

  63. Relieable sauce

    Redmond might just have a shot at Englands RW if he has a good season for Norwich, he is a good player & has started the season better than any other English RW, may have an outside chance of making the Euro squad.
    No one has claimed the position for there own yet, Townsend & Walcott are too inconsistant & injury prone, Chamberlain seems to be highest in the pecking order but is still just inexperienced raw potential, has had a lot of injuries as well.

    Roy shouldnt put to much faith in the Arsenal boys really, giving Chambers a call up was a lazy & stupid decision.

  64. R.S.P.C.Arsenal


    I get a full page legends ad then u close an it opens on another page with its second page of advertising…
    I’m all for adverts its paid my bills 35 years …
    But this is really over powering an has had an averse effect I don’t want to see the film now where as I did previously …

  65. MidwestGun

    Goondawg –
    Not betting on that one. Hard to tell whether Brazil will take it seriously. They might with Dunga under fire since Copa America. I think Mexico will lose tho, later.

    Tom –
    I hope Zelalam develops into a great player US could use a playmaker besides Bradley. At the moment tho for me Zelalam needs to bulk up a bit and work on not getting muscled off the ball. Like most young players if he has time and space he has some magic technical skills. But as he moves up the ranks will see how he handles being pressed or man marked.

  66. tom

    Hardly anyone here will agree, but to me it would be far more satisfying to see a kid like Zelalem progress and become a star than it would to buy superstar.

    If we stuff the ranks with expensive mercenaries there will be less room for our excellent youth.

    Obviously the club is focusing on kids again so there is some logic to not splurging on players.

    It can’t be nothing but kids. AW learned that the hard way but to augment the squad they are a great option.

  67. MidwestGun

    Tom –
    Agreed, I love the passing skills. Going by match reports from last year of peeps I trust on here in Arsenal Youth matches however heard sometimes he tends to go missing and wasn’t as developed as some other prospects. Additionally, he has a slight build… sort of willowy.
    I’ve only ever seen him play in US youth matches. And he did well against his own age players. But like I said I’m hopeful as the US hasn’t had a truly top class playmaker that can dictate play in ages.
    Hope the loan situation is competitive enough to develop his toughness.

  68. MidwestGun

    You have to have a mix of developing players however a team fixated on winning a title has to worry about the now, imo. Otherwise you are always waiting for the next crop to develop. In my mind it not logical at all to not spend to sacrifice for a maybe player 3 years from now unless you can’t afford it like a lower table team such as Everton.

  69. Bamford10


    “our excellent youth”

    Complete joke. How many Arsenal youth products feature for the starting XI today? How many even in the squad? The Arsenal academy isn’t really all that great, and most of the players people were talking up a year or two ago look unpromising today.

    Yes, a great club should have a good youth academy and program, but (i) Arsenal’s youth academy isn’t that great and (ii) said system (at any club) cannot replace signing quality players.

    Tom – I must say, since you’ve arrived, you’ve made one terrible argument after another. You seem a nice and pleasant sort, but your arguments are thoroughly without depth and totally unpersuasive.

  70. tom


    Watch the clip to see he has become quite robust.
    I’m not surprised he can be periferal in youth games as he is on a different level and wavelength than most of his contemporaries .

    This is another instance when a little faith makes it more enjoyable.

  71. tom

    Agreed AFC should have more homegrown in squad but having Gibbs, Wilshire and Bellerin is a start.
    Our youth has improved considerably in recent seasons.
    Don’t use youth league results as a guide as our program is odd with many on loan and 17 year olds in U-21 etc.
    The club has made a conscious effort to develop this resource so hopefully it pays off.

    What’s wrong with that, Bamford?