The players are not the problem, Theo, and predictions for the summer

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Hi everyone, its @aldo_doel here, coming at ya like Cleopatra.

First things first MASSIVE LOL @ SPURS. I know our season has been worse, and they are still likely to finish above us, but there’s still no better feeling than seeing Spurs fans’ hopes and dreams smashed into pieces.

Anyway I felt motivated to write something after the codeine-induced sloth of a game which was Sunderland away but also in response to Pedro’s article yesterday.

The players are not the problem

I agree with Pedro that Ozil has been pretty bad lately, and that his attitude is in the toilet. Ramsey, Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott have all had absymal seasons. Mertesacker and Koscielny look miles off the world beaters they were two years ago. Sanchez has had about five good games out of 20. Welbeck can’t find any sort of consistency. Gabriel has been unrelentingly bad. Monreal and Bellerin have both committed some howlers. Despite the revisionism, when they were our midfield pairing Coquelin and Cazorla were TRASH. Even big Pete Cech, while saving us a significant number of points this season, has also made some uncharacteristic errors.  The only player who has shown any kind of consistent form has been Elneny who has not been at the club long enough to become complacent.

Why do I highlight all these players. Because despite the form they have shown, I would not get rid of a single one. They have all at one time or another been indispensable to the club. They are not bad players, they are just stuck in a spiral of negativity and complacency that they can’t escape from. Pete said he’d take £60m for Ozil and replace him with Mahrez.

Now while I accept that Mahrez is a quality player just think about this proposition. If this is what three seasons at Arsenal does to Mesut Ozil – a World Cup winner, a former Galactico, a guy who destroyed England in the 2010 World Cup, whose sale the Madrid fans and Cristiano Ronaldo were in such uproar about – what chance does Riyad Mahrez or any other player have?

The issue is not personnel. And constantly calling for personnel to be changed because their “attitude” stinks is treating the symptom not the cause.


Its worth remembering that despite their wealth and fame, all football players are relatively young and impressionable.

A manager can set the tone for their entire work ethos: Are they excited about going to training every day? Are they playing in a team where failure is not tolerated? Is the manager keeping them calm and focused before big games  despite the added pressure? Are they confident that when they come up against a better team their manager has a plan as to how to outsmart them? Are they confident that their manager’s training regime is optimising their fitness, keeping them sharp for the entire season and minimising their risk of injury? Are they confident that when the team is struggling in a game that their manager will make the changes, either tactically or from the bench, to help them? When their individual form is struggling do they trust their manager to help identify the problem and come up with a plan to help them work through it? And when they see one of their teammates perform consistently badly, do they know the manager will take the necessary steps in the transfer market to bolster the team?

If I was an Arsenal player my answer would be “no” to all these questions.

So is it any wonder that, given enough time, all our players end up arrogant, ill disciplined or nervous? Arguably our three best players this season have been Ozil, Cech and Welbeck. None of whom spent their formative years being coached by Arsene Wenger. Those who have grown up under his tutelage, that British Core, would struggle to get into a Championship side at the moment.

It feels ridiculous to keep having to say this but I respect Arsene Wenger for what he has done for the club. His achievements make him the greatest manager the club has ever had. Now that I have got that out of the way, let me say this: he is done. He was done in 2008 after our season collapsed because he didn’t rotate the squad or make any signings in January. The club should have sacked him in 2011 after our season collapsed for the same reason and then our two best players left and he didn’t replace them. He should have resigned after he won the FA Cup in 2014 knowing that he could have gone out on a high.

Instead the club bottled it, out of fealty to the financial stability he brings and in misplaced awe of his footballing knowledge. And he has hung on, whether out of arrogance or genuine delusion, continuing to apply 1998 methods as the game evolved around him.

Since 2008 the team has been through four iterations but the results are exactly the same. In fact this team is arguably the best one we have had in that time. We have imported in three world class players rather than sought to develop them ourselves. We have a world class goalkeeper for the first time since 2004. We have the right balance of experience and youth, unlike in previous years. And yet arguably this is Arsene Wenger’s greatest ever collapse. With one or two exceptions (Flamini and Ospina), changing this group of players for another will not make any difference. Let me say that again: the players are not the problem.


If anyone embodies the malaise and frustration of the second half of Arsene Wenger’s tenure at Arsenal its Theo. Its no coincidence that his longest serving player is also his most hopelessly lost.

However I still believe there is a good player in there and with better coaching he could be a great player. He obviously has more ability than Danny Drinkwater, Mark Albrighton and Jeff Schlupp and yet these guys are about to win the league. Just imagine what Mourinho, Pep or even Ranieri could do with Theo’s raw talent?

As for his embarrassing hurdle over Kaboul’s tackle. It was pitiful but that fear is not something innate in Theo and is not connected to his salary or footballer’s lifestyle (as much as we might like to believe). It was borne out of a lack of confidence which he has been carrying since January and which has given him the decision making of a dog chasing its own tail.

I come back to my earlier point, what is Arsene Wenger doing to help Theo work through his current crisis of confidence? Absolutely fuck all by the looks of things.

10 predictions for the Summer

Finally some predictions for the summer (assuming Arsene stays):

1. The warchest and “Arsene has been told to spend big” stories start before this season ends

2. Arteta, Flamini, Rosicky all leave. We sign one midfielder and Arsene resists the call to sign another saying that we have Wilshere who then gets injured in the first month of the new season. A midfielder crisis ensues

3. Despite needing a new backup GK, Ospina stays. Arsene continues to play him in cup games and we inevitably exit all cup competitions early

4. Despite the urgent need for a 20 goal a season striker, Arsene puts in a derisory bid for his only target in June which fails. He waits until the weekend before the new season to try and sign another striker (You can decide who this is)

5. We make one marquee signing then Gazidis comes out in the press talking up the merits of Arsene Wenger and how “he’s more determined than ever to win the league” etc etc

6. Mesut Ozil flirts with a big club and then eventually leaves next Summer. Becomes a hate figure among fans for not showing loyalty to a failed project

7. Arsene Wenger uses the EU referendum and the Euro championships as excuses for his lack of further signings and Arsenal’s poor start to the season/dip in form in January

8. John Cross writes a puff piece the week before the seasons starts about how Arsene has learnt from last year and is using the latest training techniques so is confident he doesn’t need further signings etc etc

9. Overworked and lacking direction, Alexis Sanchez burns out and goes on an Arshavin-style decline in form. Fans bemoan him for being lazy. He struggles on for 2 years then is sold to a South American club

10. We go on a good run of form, maybe a five game winning streak, and Arsenal offer Arsene a 2 year contract extension

Who says I’m not a positive person?!

Right thats it from me. Have a great day and let me know your predictions. You can follow me on twitter @aldo_doel

35 Responses to “The players are not the problem, Theo, and predictions for the summer”

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  1. WrightIsGod

    Very clear to me that the whole Premier League does not want Spurs anywhere near this title judging by wba’s performance last night…. Thank f**k!

  2. Mick Kartun


    1. Fail to buy the required quality players in key positions before the season starts, leaving the squad at least two players short of a title-winning one: Check.

    2. Start season well and get stupid fans to believe that we are in a title race: Check.

    3. Run key players into the ground by over-training and over-playing them; causing various muscle injuries: Check.

    4. Have at least one long-term injured player who’ll be “Like a new signing when he’s back.”: Check.

    5. Start off rubbish in the champions’ league group stages: Check.

    6. But finish well, just nicking second spot by winning the last qualifying game: Check.

    7. Get knocked out in the last 16, but not before a “valiant” comeback attempt after a pathetic first-leg performance: Check.

    8. Collapse in the Premier League, losing away to rubbish mid-table sides: Check.

    9. But finish well, winning the last few games in order to secure that all-important fourth place: Check.

    10. Get the muppet supporters to believe next year will be better: Check.

    11. Do the same thing next year: Check.

  3. Danish Gooner

    This squad need a disciplinarian,one that dont pamper them like little children when they perform below par but someone who is bold enough to tell them when they underperform,not a sadist like fergie but maybe a Simeone.

  4. denny

    well Gooners i still maintain we nid a proven premier league stricker who is still eager to prove himself at the top level not one of those spent forces with high egos who will become uncontrollable, undroppable and otherwise untouchable like our very own Mersuit Ozil. Gooners there is one Marko Arnautovic who i strongly regard as a top stricker, he is well built, has a thunderous shot that will provide us with a different dimension for our game from long-range. Marko is strong in the air, he is a hard worker out of possession. Marko has the pace and the hunger to achieve. He is well experienced and at the peak of his career. This guy just reminds me of Zlatan. Wenger should get this lethal stricker who is available for jus less than 12.5 million and is in contract crisis with Stoke City. Wenger please learn something from Ranieri and get us Marko Arnautovic.

  5. Wallace

    “Despite the revisionism, when they were our midfield pairing Coquelin and Cazorla were TRASH. ”

    we average something like 2.2pts per game when they start. if that’s ‘trash’ i’ll take it.

  6. diabyearnshownuch

    Please, please, please Wenger hear what is being said………..get the fucking message…….we don’t want you around anymore…….please fuck off

  7. diabyearnshownuch

    anyone know what the going rate is for a hitman……….can we get Wenger bumped off…..maybe not dead, just unable to manage the club…….oh hold on, seems to have already happened

  8. Emiratesstroller


    I am sorry but I disagree with some of your analysis and forecasts.

    1. Regrettably Wenger will remain at the club until the end of his contract in June 2017. However, I do not think that it will be renewed beyond that date.

    2. Arsenal will invest serious money in the Transfer Market this summer. Whether that is a good thing whilst Wenger is still at helm is another matter.

    3. The reasons that the club will have to spend are as follows:
    a] Arsenal cannot afford to fail qualifying for Champions place, because of
    impact on revenues.
    b]It could also impact on sponsorship monies received by club.
    c]The club wrote in their last set of full accounts that investing in the team is
    a prerequisite. It is therefore ironic how little Wenger spent last summer.

    4. I am sure that a lot of dross will be offloaded this summer. I think that the
    club will try to sell some players to increase their transfer budget. The
    most likely candidates are Walcott or Oxlade-Chamberlain. I do not think
    that both will go, but at least one. Personally I would prefer to see Walcott
    offloaded, because I think that his work ethic stinks and his wages are
    completely unjustified for the playing time we get out of him.

    5. The club needs to recruit at least 4-5 new players and those are going to
    cost serious money if they are going to be of the right quality. The main
    priorities are RCB,DMF and ST.

    6. However, the main imperative over next 12 months has to be reorganisation
    of football management and coaching systems at club. We need to bring
    in a Football Director with or without Wenger’s blessing and he should be
    charged with overhaul of entire system.

    7. Finally I think that the club needs fresh blood in Boardroom. Three of the
    Directors are aged 70-80+.

  9. leon

    I don’t think it matters who comes in because as long as the management structure stays the way it is this will continue to stay the same I think this season has exposed wenger lack of tactical nouse and lack of ability to enspire his players let’s face it neither Leicester or spurs have any were near recouces this has but they have good managers

  10. TitsMcGee

    Just imagine what Mourinho, Pep or even Ranieri could do with Theo’s raw talent?”

    Theos only raw talent is speed. He’s bang average at everything else.

  11. steve

    “He obviously has more ability than Danny Drinkwater, Mark Albrighton and Jeff Schlup”

    No he hasn’t.

    “Just imagine what Mourinho, Pep or even Ranieri could do with Theo’s raw talent?”

    What raw talent? He’s always been a bang average player who’s extremely limited.

  12. StopTheWengerSpin

    Quote “Finally I think that the club needs fresh blood in Boardroom. Three of the
    Directors are aged 70-80+.”

    The only fresh blood you are going to get in the boardroom is when one of them keels over and requires a transfusion

  13. shad

    Nicely penned article Aldo but Theo is not, never has and never will be a proper footballer. Athlete yes, footballer, no. Even 5 years in Brazil, Spain or Argentina wouldn’t squeeze an intelligent dribble out of him. Waste of £140k. Unforgivable on Webger’s end.

  14. Tony

    We can all have subjective views regarding the current squad; most are right on one way or another.

    The problem is with Wenger, owner and the board. Simple as that!

    “Three of the Directors are aged 70-80+.” Speaks volumes.

    They are only concerned with profits.

    What they fail to realise is that they’d be more profitable winning trophies. Revenue streams would increase via sponsorships etc.

    Basically an unsuccessful product doesn’t sell.

    I only have one prediction is that we will see more of the same every year while Wenger, Kronke and the board remain the same as much as it pains me to say it.

    At least Eddie Jones has given us something to look forward to.