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“People Want Success. It’s Like Coffee, They Want Instant” *

My fellow Positivitas, another Sunday has rolled round and with our fourth game of the PL season, has settled. I think we are all now a little more confident and able to raise our eyes to look forward and upward.

The game yesterday was predictable in form.

We dominated possession, pushed the home side back throughout the 90 minutes and rendered them impotent (in any genuine football sense), and earned our expected three points. All Toon had to offer was stout defence, which was to their credit, and mindlessly stupid attempts to boot their way back into the game, normally through Coquelin’s shins, which was not. At one point it appeared the Toon players had lost their collective minds as Marriner had to pull out card after card. Had they found themselves down to nine men, or less, then they would have had only themselves to blame.

“Professional” footballers? Don’t make me laugh.

Some comment has been made concerning the sending off and that it had a significant influence on the outcome of the game. I don’t think so. We had dominated the game before the Serbian got his marching orders. We dominated the game exactly the same afterwards. Newcastle were pinned like a butterfly on a mounting board before the 16th minute, they remained pinned to the 93rd minute. I would agree that there are some games when a sending-off can be pivotal, just not yesterday.

Credit to young Francis. I suspect he was targeted by McLaren on the basis that, as a young player, he would lose his head and retaliate. He kept a commendably cool demeanour and let Marriner do his job. I say that maturity and good sense is another indicator of how far, and how fast, the young Frenchman has developed since his return from Charlton.

As for what I thought we did well yesterday I was hugely impressed by the work of both full backs. Defensively they had almost nothing to do but both worked tirelessly to support the attack, to offer an outside option around the Barcodes’ banks of four, and Hector was unlucky to miss out on the penalty that his excellent touch had caused. Both Nacho and Hector used the ball sensibly, passed carefully. A pleasure to watch. Against the lesser sides the attacking contribution of our full backs can be crucial. I would like to see both taking a few pot shots as well.

Good performances from Santi and Aaron, Gabriel sharp and ready to go as a starter, if required.

Less well?

I hardly need to point of the finishing, with Theo and eventually Olly not converting chances that on another day would have given us a far more comfortable afternoon. To be fair to both, only one was a wild miss, with Krul making two good saves for the others. Our lack of quality finishing concerns me, it concerns Wenger, I have no bloody doubt it concerns Theo and Giroud. Hard work needed in training and Danny back after the International break offers the answer, I suspect.

What the opposition did well?

Colloccini is such a good centre back I wonder what he has done wrong to have had to play for Newcastle for the past seven years, especially when you see some of the talentless donkeys signed by CL clubs in England, Spain, Italy and Germany in the years since 2008 (Yes Pepe I am referring to you among others). Coloccini was a rock yesterday in the air and on the ground. Excruciating that the Argentine was the one that deflected in Ox’s shot for the winner yesterday.

I salute you Fabricio as a worthy opponent.

On the “looking upwards” vibe we have slipped into fifth in the table on the strength of probably playing about 85-90% of our potential. Citeh remain the team to beat. Interesting next round of PL games though. We have Stoke at the Ems, assuming they still have 11 players eligible to play.

Elsewhere Manyoo at home to Liverpool, Chelsea at Goodison and most intriguing Citeh travel to Selhurst Park. Both Mancs side face tricky games, and if Chelsea are going to revive, then they face a battle against Everton and a pissed off Martinez after their behaviour with Stones.

Small steps in a long campaign.

Enjoy Sunday!!

*Sir Bobby Robson (as if you didn’t know ) 18 February 1933 – 31 July 2009

107 Comments

Arsenal Versus Newcastle: The Narrow Road to the Deep North East

Have You Ever Seen A Sadder Looking Dog?

Where do I begin? We’re three games into a spluttering start to a season which promises much but has yet to deliver. We’ve lost one on a bewildering afternoon which felt like watching a match after inadvertently switching the Splenda for a tab of acid, nothing quite made sense. We’ve won one in a gruelling fashion which should have been much easier and experienced a draw that felt more like a defeat. It’s been a funny old time.

Perhaps that’s why so many people obsessed over the draw for the European Cup. Anything to take their thoughts away from a difficult few weeks. I didn’t pay any attention to such nonsense for a couple of reasons. Mainly because I felt so low after we were effectively robbed of the points on Monday night that I wanted nothing to do with football for a few days. The other reason was that the announcement of the teams in our group is meaningless. It isn’t a match. Nothing is decided. It just provides an excuse for utterly pointless conjecture as to the outcome of games yet to be played, some of which are still a very long way off. No one to my knowledge has ever predicted the outcome of our matches in the group stage with any accuracy and so the thought of joining such foolishness and speculation left me completely cold.

Then Friday rolled up and I suddenly realised we had a game the next day. And that of course means that a blog hungry public will be wiping the sleep from its eyes and rushing to Positively Arsenal for some words of wisdom. I needed to get an early night, wake up fresh and full of exciting insights into the team and its visit to the North East.

And so here I am. Coffee and muesli despatched with my customary aplomb and this blank page in front of me. The problem of the pre match blog so early in the season is there is so little one can say about either team. As Shotta pointed out in his excellent post the stats suggest that we will come good, we’re making far too many chances not to and we have the personnel who know how to stick ’em away. But that is a fruit which will ripen only in the fullness of time. Right now we’re not in any kind of rhythm when it comes to converting the many chances created. Likewise our opponents today are only three games in and have also posted indifferent results. We know from their recent encounter with Man U that they are capable of some resolute if occasionally last ditch defending we also know they’ve only scored two in three and that has cost them. But then I could say pretty much the same about us. It’s all too unpredictable right now and as you know I’ve never been much of a one for tea leaf gazing parapsychology.

We were quite clearly unsettled by the suddenly thrown together defence on Monday but I was more interested with how the unit grew into the game and put their panicky start behind them. Gabriel especially looked the part by the time the second half got under way and I am confident they will be better today regardless of who starts. Players put each other under pressure with poor passes in and around the area but they did so while trying to do the right thing and that is key. Piss poor play because you don’t know better is a big worry, a hapless execution of an otherwise sound plan is far less of a concern because it is unlikely to be repeated. One glimmer of encouragement was Cech’s performance. He made a couple of decent saves and I hope he has his mojo back because a strong confident keeper is so important when your defence is pulled apart by injuries.

Inspired by Shotta’s effort I thought I would try to do a bit of research for you today. I went to Steve Maclaran’s post match interview following Newcastle’s previous home game and attempted to listen to it. First of all I have to say it came as something of a surprise as I didn’t realise he was the manager at St James’ Park, I thought it was one of Alan Pardew’s coaching staff who’s name temporarily escapes me. Not wishing to appear ignorant I was hoping the manager’s comments would offer an insight into the way his team play and I could base some sort of hashed together pseudo analysis upon this but quite frankly it was like listening to Michael Owen delivering a eulogy. I drifted off fairly early on and apart from him saying something about several of his players having no legs after sixty minutes nothing really went home. An inspirational team talker I suspect he is not. However I have to say if the legs thing is true then we ought to be in with a bit of a chance of a few late goals. I may be no tactical expert but I am pretty certain that an ambulant opposition would be considerably harder to circumvent.

Ensuring that Newcastle don’t resort to the tried and tested practice of attempting to remove the legs of any Arsenal players will be the job of that cheeky scamp Andre Marriner. Now, I may not be any good at predicting the line up nor the result, and frankly my dear I don’t give two hoots for attempting to do either but there are still some certainties in life. The BT Sports commentary will be so woeful that I will turn it off after about eight minutes, switch to the Arsenal Player commentary, turn that off after they’ve read the eleventh email from a disgruntled fan demanding we sign a new defensive midfielder and go into the other room to watch the match on a Russian Sopcast stream. The other fact we can know in advance without fear of contradiction is that Andre Marriner will make some astonishingly bad decisions but unlike many other refs won’t be overly biased against Arsenal just generally incompetent. Although Andrew Crawshaw at Untold Arsenal suggests that Marriner’s real blind spot comes when Arsenal players are fouled in the penalty area. The best advice is to stay on your feet and keep going no matter how blatant the offence because we won’t get the spot kick anyway. To that end I think Theo should play because he’s like one of those slinky spring things that rolls right over, bounces back up and keeps on going whereas Olly being larger and heavier on his toes is more likely to go down like a felled redwood. That’s as close to a PA writer making team suggestions as you will ever get so make the most of it.

Along with team and tactical predictions the other thing I never usually insult you with is suggesting that the three points is all that matters. This trite and tired observation so beloved of just about every other blog is the one thing guaranteed to get my goat. The game is about entertainment and while Monday night’s result may have left us all down in the dumps there was some wonderful football played and I spent the night on the edge of my seat, which is surely what entertainment is all about. I am about to use the word ‘however’. Prepare yourselves. However I have come to the tentative conclusion that maybe we need to just win a few games, get some points in the bag no matter how, if for no other reason than to settle the players down and get them back into their groove. Today and for the next couple of matches maybe the win is more important than the performance. Perhaps, just perhaps those slick performances will start to flow if the side aren’t playing catch up because of points dropped in the previous match. Who knows? Stranger things have happened. Anyway, whatever the line up, whatever the result my faith in the squad, manager and his staff will remain unshaken and I will look forward to each game with the same excitement as I did the last, after all what is the alternative? Wallow in the mire of despair? Yell at the kids? Kick the dog? Go on Twitter and abuse Monsieur Wenger? I don’t think so. I’m a supporter, I think I’ll just support.

 

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Countering The White Flag Brigade at The Arsenal

After the disappointment of not winning at home vs Liverpool, there was the expected emotional reaction by many pundits and fans who have concluded after the first three games of the season that Arsenal cannot contend for the title.

1-Win, 1-Draw and 1-Loss and we are already out of the runnings.

In this rush to judgment various justifications are offered. The most popular thesis is we lack a world class striker, ergo we shall fail to score goals. To back up this argument there is a virtual panic over our goal-scoring so far. I will admit that after three games the figures (compliments of Squawka) are ugly:

TO DATE
Total Goals Scored 2
Avg Goals Per Game 0.66
Total Chances Created 49
Shot Accuracy 44%

The implication, by those already running up the white flag of surrender, is at the current rate Arsenal will end the season with only 39 goals and a shot accuracy that will barely surpass Aston Villa’s infamous strike rate of 44% in the 2014-15 season.

Obviously these pessimistic projections are nonsensical and unrealistic for a team of Arsenal’s quality, unless you are a blatant fear-monger. Whilst not every pundit or blogger goes to these extremes, on a repetitive and consistent basis, the fear is being sown that we do not have the strikers to score enough goals to win games. As would be expected, hopefully by readers of this blog, the record speaks a totally different story.

Just take the past three years, which by the way, concurs with Giroud’s arrival at the club and assumption of the role of main striker.

2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 AVG
Total Goals Scored 72 68 71 70
Avg Goals Per Game 1.89 1.79 1.87 1.85
Total Chances Created 461 404 470 445
Shot Accuracy 48% 54% 52% 51%

The figures demonstrate that based on Total Chances Created we are consistently a 70 goal per season team. Furthermore with our non-world class strike force we have a team which will consistently score from 16% of chances created.

Yet there is very little attention in the press, and obviously none can be expected from the fear mongers, to the fact that so far this season Arsenal is creating chances at the rate of knots.  For the season-to-date we are creating 16 chances per game which, if the rate is maintained, will total 620 for the season. If we sustain our 3-year average conversion rate then we should score 99 goals for the season. Rosy projections obviously but the figures suggest we should exceed Total Goals Scored if we sustain our average. Any professional forecaster would probably plump for a figure somewhere in the middle and project 84 goals for the season.

Arsene Wenger is obviously not in panic mode.  In his pre-Newcastle presser he made the following observation:

“Maybe we are not firing on all cylinders at the moment. By definition, the finishing is a little bit cyclical and it goes in cycles. Finishing qualities come and go and you do not always know why, but certainly at the moment we want it so much at home that we’re trying to force it a little bit.

Somebody needs to remind the White Flag Brigade it is still August. The race has just started and far from decided. We are 8th in the tables, ahead of the defending champions by goal difference. The team is creating chances at a mega rate. History guarantees that as sure as night follows day the goals will come. Roll on Newcastle.

Postscript: Almost a full hour after I signed off on this blog and submitted it for publishing, a story appeared online by Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph here which was directly sourced from the club and not made on background under the cloak of anonymity, where Wenger made it clear he is concerned about the speculative attacks on the club which are not fact based.

The only thing I want is that when people have opinions, it is documented and worked out before … especially when it is football specialists.”

Without trying to ride on Wenger’s coat-tails, I must admit some satisfaction that Positively Arsenal is one of a few blogs that has been trying to use publicly available data to counter some of the damaging, baseless propaganda that is put in the public sphere not only by the club’s adversaries (PL rivals, greedy-agents, self-serving journalists, etc) but by its own (ex-players turned pundit, Arsenal bloggers and podcasters). Given the easy access to the internet, it only takes a few minutes of research to unearth tons of information proving that Gary Neville, Thierry Henry, Jaime Carragher and company are often talking a load of bollocks and simply giving comfort to the malcontents (George) and those suffering from dysphoria (Andrew Nicoll). We have said it often, on this and another blog which many of us once frequented, that this mindless negativity affects the team, especially in our own stadium. Now we have confirmation by the boss:

“What is a concern is that it puts pressure on players. I love that they [former players] go on television, but what I would like is for them to help people to love football even more. The first mission is to educate people. That is fantastic because the guy can explain things that the guy who has not played at the top level can understand and to get people to really love the game. Some do it very well. The other way I don’t like so much.”

I think he has given us more than enough reason to do our little part in countering the narrative of the White Flag Brigade.

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Can Arsenal Win With Lightweights?

We like to hear things that reinforce our opinions.

We agree with those that have the same opinions as us and argue against those who have opinions that differ. Of course we do.  Why would we not? I have yet to meet someone that thinks their opinion is wrong. If they did they would change it. So everyone thinks their opinion is right.

The problem starts when we argue against someone with superior knowledge of a subject and refuse to entertain the idea that they are more likely to be right than we are.

The problem with football is most people believe they have a great knowledge when in fact, in most cases, mine included, it’s nothing more than a basic layman’s knowledge. Then someone comes along – let’s say someone like Gary Neville – and says the same as you. Now Gary clearly has better than a layman’s knowledge so you hold him up as evidence that not only were you right, but you know as much as him, because you have drawn the same conclusions.

To me though, this a a bit like feelling unwell and wanting the opinion of a consultant to confirm your self-diagnosis; instead you speak to a nurse and because he/she confirms your thoughts, you are happy to accept this opinion.

What are pundits though?

As a rule they are either ex-footballers that were good at kicking a ball and not much else, serially failed managers or shock-jock second-rate journalists. They are employed for their entertainment value much more than their football nous.

As a rule they are “paint by numbers” in their thinking. They stick to the formula of how the layman sees the game. How many times do we hear “the United way, the Liverpool way or the Arsenal way” with pundits insisting that managers should stick to a sometimes 40- or 50-year old way of playing, because that once brought that club success. They pick the moment in time where the club had its greatest success with its greatest team and players and insist that is the template.

In the case of Arsenal that’s The Invincibles.

Arsene mixed that formula, it brought unprecedented success and he should stick to it.

Simples.

Well that might well work if the game had not moved on, if pitches had not improved, if the technical excellence of top players had not improved or perhaps if players as good as those from the previous era are now available to be bought and kept.

However, if you attempt to stick to that formula with lesser players, in a different environment, the chances are success will not follow.

If you are playing Dembélé, Schneiderlin and Remy for Vieira, Gilberto and Henry (because they are the nearest you can get or afford) then will it work? I would suggest not.

If you do what many clubs do and follow the formula of buying the best player you can afford, in the accepted mould, you will finish behind clubs that follow the same formula but can buy better players.

A player like Santi would never see the light of day in mid-field.

It might be that we can’t win the league with diminutive technical players like Santi, Jack, Ozil and Rosicky, but I suggest we have a better chance than with second-rate players that fit the accepted mould.

Pedantic George @Blackburngeorge

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Reality Leaves A Lot To The Imagination*

Morning +++’ers and I guess that like me you have been gently turning over last night’s game, like a tumble dryer at a slow speed, little flashes of bright cloth, amid a whirl of rather confused and apparently damp fabric.

What of the contest itself?

A disturbing first half. Hesitation, nervousness and careless passing from the outset which appeared to accelerate as Liverpool sensed they might be on for a win and pressed us hard in our half of the pitch. Ironically the best Arsenal pass of the first half which led to Aaron’s ‘goal’ came from Santi, who seemed like he was ill. No, seriously, he looked a bit dazed as he trotted about. His passing was way off target. As for the ‘goal’ how long is professional football going to look ridiculous by refusing to employ technology to assist officials, then bleat long and loud about terrible decisions by officials? I am hopeful that it may happen in my lifetime, though probably not Blatter’s.

As for the other 44 minutes, Le Coq stepped in twice with two decisive and, thank the Lord, clean tackles to deny Scouse forwards bearing down on Cech. One great save and one good save by the Czech/poor finish by Benteke, left us clinging on at half time. So many of those Liverpool chances came as a result of errors on our part, failing to clear a ball, losing it 25 yards out etc. And it was not just Chambers and Gabriel, it was most of the players in red and white shirts.

And when we returned and Mr Oliver peeped the second period into life the world turned upside down. Passes hit their intended receiver (quite NFL that phrase, I shall use it again), Liverpool looked increasingly ragged and could not retain the ball, their young Gomez had to resort to niggly fouls to keep the left-hand side controlled, we made many chances in the box, Giroo huffed, Ozil puffed, Mignolet pulled off a couple of good saves …….. But, disappointingly, we failed to bring the house down. Good contribution from the Ox, Sanchez looked a little subdued. Gabriel looked very assured throughout the second 45 against an aggressive and increasingly frustrated Benteke. Theo unfortunately anonymous for his 10 minute cameo. No cigar last night son.

A point gained, two points dropped? It was the right result on the game so I say the former.

What of the opponents?

In spite of myself I was impressed. A polished performance, particularly at the back from Loveren and Skrtel, Clyne solid, Coutinho tricky. They could be genuine Top 4 contenders again, especially with no Euro distractions. What on earth was Mignolet doing time wasting though?  Idiotic attitude – you had the game in the palm of your glove you fool  – and you were running the clock down. Almost unfathomably stupid.

What of the Arsenal?

Simple solution, score goals to translate footballing superiority into points in the table. We have intelligent and experienced players. I have no doubt that will be Mr Wenger’s priority as he strides into Colney today. I have no idea how he will go about it, that is not my job.

Anyway the game gives me a chance to repeat my favourite five minute home movie of football, A Night At The Emirates. Even if you have seen it before, watch it again.

Enjoy your Tuesday.

*John Lennon 9th October 1940 – 8th December 1980

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Arsenal Versus Liverpool: Breaking Warren’s Heart

DSC05488-Edit.JPG

I bumped into Warren on Thursday, I was haggling in a camera shop, he was mooching about town with his daughter. We haven’t seen much of each other lately so we pressed pause in our respective schedules and brought one another up to date. As with most people in these circumstances it wasn’t long before the conversation strayed to that mutually agreeable safe ground of football. I suggested that the next time his team were playing and it was on one of the channels I have available on the old flat screen I should negotiate with she who must be grovelled to and fawned upon for the use of the front room, and he might care to join me.

Taking me by the elbow, he pointed out gently, with the solicitude usually reserved for guiding an elderly psychiatric patient back into the grounds of the home, that the next time his team was playing was in fact on Monday night. Against my team. Warren is, you see, a Liverpool supporter and I hadn’t looked to see when our next fixture was nor who we would be playing. I’ve never been particularly good at keeping up with current events and in my present befuddled state I confess this particular penny had entirely failed to drop.

A silence, gravid with unspoken meaning passed slowly and of course silently between us. Perhaps, we agreed, Monday might not be the best night. Could either of us really enjoy the game knowing the other was fervently determined that our side must fail? Could I glance upon my house guest with a benevolent eye knowing he wished disaster upon the Arsenal defence? Would he not struggle to maintain his own sangfroid in the face of my similarly hostile attitude towards his team? We parted best of friends as ever we were, him debonair and elegant, me shambling and dishevelled, but the brief encounter had set me thinking.

Was it ever thus? Before the days of the internet and especially blogs like this and social media like twitter, were we quite so fractured so determinedly tribal? I don’t think so. I used to go to the boozer to watch the match whether it be against Man U, Spurs, Chelsea or whoever and mingle freely with supporters from those clubs both friends and complete strangers. There were good humoured exchanges, legs were pulled, piss was taken and we all had a few bevvies after the game, no harm no foul.

Nowadays I wouldn’t dream of watching a match in public for fear of meeting the wrong kind of Arsenal fans never mind supporters of the opposition. How people sit in The Emirates with morons abusing our players and booing the team is entirely beyond my failing imagination. Please don’t conclude for a moment that I didn’t care back in those halcyon days, that defeat didn’t eat my insides and that the sight of Man United beating us didn’t make me want to eat glass. If anything I was even worse after a defeat then than now. But this particular divisive factionalism didn’t exist. I recall going to a flat shared by two Spurs supporting mates to watch a league cup match between our two teams and we all had a great night. Even them. And of course they lost. But not any more. It seems we have become so split, so utterly divided and so closed to the naysayers or those we deem antithetical to our way of supporting that we’ve lost the genuine community which once held football fans together.

Or perhaps it’s just me.

I don’t think so though. When I look at all the different blogs and their varied viewpoints, and I’m restricting this to just Arsenal fan sites, I am reminded powerfully of the Monty Python film The Life Of Brian.

Brian: Excuse me. Are you the Judean People’s Front?

Reg: Fuck off! ‘Judean People’s Front’. We’re the People’s Front of Judea! ‘Judean People’s Front’.

Francis: Wankers.

And so on. Before long I shouldn’t be surprised if I end up like the Popular Front, sat on my own with everyone else yelling ‘splitter’ at me as I write a blog to myself which only I read. But until that day comes I shall write it for both you and me and we can huddle together in the comment section looking suspiciously over our shoulders.

The blog has been late coming today in an effort to match the lateness of the kick off. About two days late if you ask me. Bloody silly time to play a football match but I dare say we’ll cope. A lunch time kick off for some of you depending on the time zone but a workday too so a mixed blessing – what you gain on the swings and all that. Anyway back to Warren.

When we left him he was outside Jessops contemplating tonight’s fixture. He proclaimed himself very nervous about the game, and that was about a hundred and three hours before kick off. We’re a bloody strange bunch us football fans aren’t we? Why the apprehension? I enquired. Liverpool are a pretty good team, they’ve enjoyed a winning start to the season and haven’t conceded a goal in their first two games. I’d have thought he would be brimming with confidence. When I put this to him he just smiled and pointed out that he was nervous because Liverpool would be facing, in his words, a very good team.

It’s always interesting to discover how other people see us isn’t it? It’s why Bill Bryson’s Notes From A Small Island is such a compelling read for us Brits. Someone who has taken us to his bosom shines a light on our strange ways and makes us see ourselves from a different angle. Because my social circle has become so narrow in recent years and my football circle even narrower I didn’t realise that opposition teams and fans might not quite relish a trip to the Emirates. That sides as successful and free spending as Liverpool have been over the years might experience a frisson of self doubt when they see our name on the fixture list. It’s probably because there are so many defeatist, negative, weak willed, cowardly or just jaundiced Arsenal fans surrounding our little bastion of calm and common sense, all backed up and supported by an Arsenal hating media that I’ve come to assume the prevailing mood in the country is that we’re no good. Far from it.

I don’t know about you but I’m emboldened by the knowledge that, with the possible exception of Swansea, no one really looks forward to playing us and that’s probably because they know that on our day we can take anyone on and, potentially, take anyone apart. We just need to be on our day more often and that feeling will surely grow. When opposition teams tip over that invisible edge from knowing we’re a good side into assuming we’ll probably beat them then our work is half done. We’ve experienced this a few times in our past and I believe it’s time to get it back. Of course we will only do that by winning some games. We held on against Palace which is a start but it would be far more useful to end Liverpool’s solid start tonight, break poor Warren’s heart and enjoy the kind of solidarity across the Arsenal fan base which only a win against a top six rival can bring.

I think we can do it, heck, I know we can do it. Liverpool are a much better team than we often give them credit for and Brendan Rodgers has done a far better job than we like to admit, but we have a squad which blends invention and tenacity, youth and experience into what I believe can be the perfect balance. The engine didn’t start against West Ham and may not have run perfectly smoothly at Palace but it’s still a beautiful machine. In many ways it doesn’t feel as if the season has really started properly yet, tonight could be the perfect time to kick it off.

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Football’s Habituation Principle

 A guest post from

On Tuesday night I watched United take on Club Brugge in the Champions League qualifier. I enjoyed the early goal against them, of course I did, but any hopes of further embarrassment were stopped short by an excellent performance form their new player, Memphis Depay. Although the rest of the team creaked a bit, and although it still took a late, late intervention from Fellaini to ensure a comfortable platform, it was Depay who made all the difference. It pains me to say this on an Arsenal blog, but I enjoyed seeing him play. He had a swagger and confidence about him that seemed entirely justified. He scored two great goals, and provided the last-second assist: he also made the crowd come alive every time he was on the ball. I know it was only against Brugge, and sterner tests lie ahead, but he had an aura about him that must excite all United fans.

Or at least, you’d like to think so, especially as there must have been a few who were a little underwhelmed by the signing back in the spring. He wasn’t exactly cheap – 24 million or so is a lot of millions for a 21 year old who, despite his excellent track record in Holland, has yet to prove himself in English football – but he wasn’t the galactico signing that many United fans would have hoped for, or even expected.  But no, here he was in August, suggesting that van Gaal was exactly right to buy him, and promising great things in the future. Will he be worthy to wear the famous No 7 shirt? Only time will tell, but he has certainly started well enough. And yet, hardly a day later, it transpired that Pedro, strongly rumoured to be another United target, had signed for Chelsea. Cue Twitter meltdown, social media awash with moans and groans that United could no longer compete, that Chelsea were the new force, that Mourinho and Cesc Fabregas’s girlfriend had hoodwinked Ed Woodward. And in all the furore Memphis Depay and the promise he brings was swiftly forgotten.

If you ever wanted a definition of football’s habituation principle this was it in spades. The quest for the new overshadowing anything already possessed. If every new acquisition so quickly becomes familiar that only an even newer purchase can satisfy then madness surely beckons. For the purposes of this argument it does not matter that Pedro and Depay are different players who both play slightly different roles, for my point is that much of the excitement about the transfer window isn’t really about football at all. I used to think it was more about macho posturing – mine’s bigger than yours sort of thing – but now I think it is about spoilt and entitled tantrum throwing and an absence of good parenting. If it wasn’t so sad it would make you smile. It should certainly make you realise that as Arsenal’s transfer dealings are subjected to the same lack of perspective and common sense then it is unlikely the media will allow Arsenal fans to think their squad is actually rather good and doesn’t need much, if any, tinkering with. And that it certainly doesn’t need the kind of full body replacement that some seem keen suggest.

Giroud scored a wonderfully athletic and predatory goal in our last match, but that has done nothing to quell the daily demands for Arsène to do what it takes to sign Benzema. Coquelin produced the ‘on the edge of dismissal’ defensive performance that many have been calling for since the days of Vieira and Petit, but still the call goes out for a new pair of Doctor Martens. Ramsey near enough ran a marathon for us at Selhurst Park but is apparently too selfish to wear the shirt while I also understand there is no hope of the defensive trio of Mertesacker , Cech and Koscielny  ever forging the Fort Knox security that proper title challenges are built on. Only new signings can put right these glaring deficiencies, but of course, the moment those signings become flesh and blood Arsenal they will prove never to be quite enough. Pinter knew all about this in The Caretaker: Davies was always travelling to Sidcup where apparently salvation lay. But if you are relying on Sidcup, or a new signing, to make everything OK in your life, then you will forever be disappointed. This is of course the point: if you need your Football club to win every match to bring all good in your life, if you are always waiting for the sparkling armada of promises then you will be waiting a long time. Next Please, observed Larkin, much as those United fans said who were no longer content with Depay. I’d rather be happy with what I’ve got, and to be honest, in football terms I’ve got an awful lot: my team on the TV nearly every match, a nice stadium to go to when the children don’t need new shoes, some wonderful players to watch, more wins than losses over the last many years and always the faint hope of a Premier League title or Champions League success to keep the Davies in me happy.

Now, about those new signings Arsène …..

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