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Negative Narratives Blight Arsenal

A guest post from Muppet   @MuppetGooner

 

The story of this season so far has been that all events have conspired to support the negative narrative supported by a number of über bloggers and media commentators. You will know it well. The unbalanced team, the groundhog day scenario of competing for a top 4 place just to appear in the champions league, with no chance of actually winning it or proceeding beyond the quarter finals. The insistence on attacking football. The lack of fist pumping leaders in the side. The suicidal decisions to bolster the attack and neglect the defence, letting two experienced defenders go. The weekly evidence, showing a clueless manager, incapable of making tactical substitutions, unsure of his best team, out of his depth.

The (negative) narrative is that the common denominator of all of these events is Wenger. The same lack of organisation and generosity in defence manifested itself in the same way, say, 5 or 6 years ago, and therefore he is to blame, and the reason for all our troubles. The negativity is exacerbated, as well by time, by the weight of expectation, heightened from last year’s FA Cup, and having more money from commercial deals. And magnified by Twitter and the press. A few über bloggers are also to blame, passing off some events as evidence of Wenger’s or the club’s incompetence, without being challenged. A bunch of idiots on Twitter letting off steam is not as worrying as the über bloggers and media commentators, as they carry some influence, and get followed by the herds.

On to a different narrative later, a positive narrative. But for the moment a simple example to illustrate the point that seemingly intelligent people, supposed experts, can spout utter BS, fuelled by a narrative, and get away with it. It was during the world cup, and Özil was playing against the U.S. The commentator said something like, “and Özil has been a passenger in this game”. The moment that he said that, Özil, far advanced up the pitch, received a ball on the right hand side. He was surrounded by 3 players. The ball, travelling at some pace, was tricky, but his 1st touch was magnificent, simply sublime. He could have been easily dispossessed. Instead, in the blink of an eye, he managed to lay the ball off to his left, in field. Surely, no English player would have been capable of those 2 seconds of exemplary technique, ensuring on-going possession of the ball?

More recent examples of an absurd narrative have been that Sanchez is carrying the team. Have we yet witnessed a tweet that credits Wenger for the signing of Sanchez?  The reason for pointing this out is that in the face of accusations about positive dogmatism, it should also be said that negative dogmatism is just as bad, and unfortunately it seems to be preached by those who believe they are somewhere in the middle of the two. A well known blogger, pontificated that “we predicted all the problems as a result of not signing an extra central defender to replace Vermaelen”. Well, we know the defence is not perfect, but at this stage of the season, we have conceded 11 goals, 1 fewer than Chelsea and City, who have “world class” managers and “world class” players including Kompany and Terry, the 2 best central defenders in the entire galactic universe. If Chelsea, with their pragmatic genius manager, have conceded only 1 fewer than us, then doesn’t that surely mean that extreme negativity as well as hyperbole is at play here?

In a recent interview, another well known über blogger discussed the state of the defence with a journalist, and they discussed the problems of Monreal as a centre back, at length, and the paucity of options. The assertion was then made that these problems were those that had never been addressed and will never be addressed. But this is where the positive narrative comes in. Perhaps not even positive, as the events over the last 2 to 3 years has shown that we are making progress, however slow it is deemed by some. We killed the idea that we had an ideological block by smashing our transfer record and signing Özil. Then came Sanchez. By any stretch of the imagination, both of these signings were from Harrods. Man U and City may have paid more for a few players recently, but haven’t they been screwed? The signings of Welbeck and Chambers have also been excellent. But the problem has been the perceived inactivity in the signing of a centre back and a defensive midfielder – the mythical DM. This is the fuel on the flames of the negative narrative. Wenger’s achilles heel. Unforgiveable, for some. But would one be deluded if they believed that we have made several attempts to sign players in these positions – not from Lidl or Aldi, but again, from Harrods?

This season, on the evidence so far, has shown us that problems are not fixed overnight, and world class players do not grow on trees. Man U are in transition for a 2nd season, and despite spending more in 2 seasons than probably the entire net spend in Wenger’s reign, are in mid table. They couldn’t find the defenders they were looking for, and are paying a heavy price for not replacing Ferdinand, Vidic and Evra. Liverpool, despite spending colossal amounts of money in the summer to replace Suarez, are a shadow of the swashbuckling side they were last year. For me this points to 2 things, a successful team needs excellent players to succeed and these obviously take time and money to sign and acquire, and also they need time as a team to gel. So hence we are told, now, that these clubs are in “transition”. Fair enough (well actually, utter tosh), but, if this is true for them – and one has to snort somewhat, then it certainly applies to us, as we have not yet had the time to fully capitalise on the transfer market, as it’s only in the last 2 years where our financial muscle has significantly strengthened. And if you believe, as  we do on here, in Wenger’s acumen in the market, then, imagine the effect of what Wenger will achieve when our net spend matches that of Liverpool and Manchester United. It will be very interesting indeed. One has looked forward to it ever since the realisation that austerity restricted us after the stadium move. To let Wenger go, or even demand his departure at this point in time, for me, is a sign that you didn’t understand the stadium move. You never understood what is was about, which was to put ourselves in a position to compete with the bigger clubs in Europe, by having the financial power to acquire players in the top tier.

If we are not quite there yet, and if you believe that all it takes are for these remaining jigsaw pieces, a top tier centre back and defensive midfielder, then it’s going to take time, because, known players in the top tier are jealously guarded by their clubs. My assertion, if I may, is that Wenger won’t buy if the quality doesn’t fit, and he has little option but to wait or to nurture younger players to maturity – Ox/Ramsey/Chambers etc. We know that this is frustrating to many, but what is the alternative? The detractor argument is that anybody is better that nothing or that there are copious amounts of players out there that will fit the bill. Really? I would wager that the amount of players that Wenger is looking at is probably under 5, worldwide. And that none of them are currently available. We know of whispers about Khedira. Certainly, Gustavo, the Brazilian. One of the Bender brothers has been linked for 2 years. For whatever reason so far, and please don’t tell us it’s because it’s not on Wenger’s priority list, the deals have not come off. We must believe they will come off, and we have to be patient.

 

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93 comments on “Negative Narratives Blight Arsenal

  1. Let’s get to the international break and have time for respite.
    Nacho will have a big test today against Bony.
    UTA!

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  2. Lets hope the lads are mentally ready. And hope for a semblance of an evening playing field.

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  3. Why was Rambo carded? Because an opposition player ran into him?

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  4. Interesting match.

    Commentary is interesting as well. I have heard that Phil Neville is for several reasons not a very good football watcher. However, his commentary has been accurate, fair and balanced. Quite a surprise and quite a good change of pace to have decent commentary for a change.

    No idea what’s going to happen in the second half, but Arsenal have a few gears to shift yet.

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  5. not bad half, ox and santi need to cover the full backs more and we need to move the ball a bit quicker and will be fine

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  6. Well played by the Swans.

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  7. awful performance from Arsenal, very one paced and lacking in drive. Only the ox showed the required energy levels. Wenger don’t do himself any favors leaving the subs till 75th minute, and I’d bet he will talks about the team being fatigued, he can’t have it both ways. Either freshen it up from the start or bring on subs much earlier if they are fatigued. Chambers was finding it so hard against their speed out wide, yet no change made. Today was a game thrown away and gives more ammunition to the ubber bloggers to have a go, and yet its hard to defend that sort of performance.

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  8. I only saw the second half of that live – I thought Ox had a good afternoon and we looked good going forward – shakey at the back all afternoon though

    Not a thing we could have done about the Siggidsun free kick but the ease with which Gomis took his chance was disappointing

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  9. I cannot fault the game analysis by Carragher and Belamy. Arsenal threw that game away with stupid decisions, stupid play…..how many times can this happen before we, as supportive fans of our manager, start to question him? I am now concerned.

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  10. I disagree about the feekick goal, I am a big fan of Szczesny but he should have saved that, it was not in the top corner, it was about four foot from it, so that suggest he got his positioning wrong, he was too far to the other side.

    Monreal was weak and frail on the goal, not the first time we have seen him fail to put his body on the line and a headed goal go in, Southampton away last season springs to mind.

    Our midfield left the defense exposed once again today, even after we went ahead, I really do not know why we did not sit back, pack the midfield and defense and hit them on the break. It seems nothing learned from midweek.

    Can anyone explain why Cazorla is still in the starting 11, he has been woeful for weeks now. Is it more of Wenger’s hierarchy of selection at work.

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  11. I love Gibbs but his play was fucking stupid leading to giving away a foul needlessly….dumb

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  12. it was ramsey who had the stupid play that led to gibbs giving away the foul for their freekick goal. Rambo tried a fancy turn, lost the ball, leaving three or four of our players way out of position, gibbs had little alternative than to stop the guys run at our area.

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  13. With the free kick, as far as I could see, right in the centre of the pitch where do you reckon Szcz should have been positioned Eddy, other than in the centre of the goal ?

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  14. he wasn’t in the center of his goal, he was well to the right of the freekick. He placed a wall to cover the right, but it was also clear he could not actually see the kick being taken, so for me clearly he or the wall was in wrong spot. As I said, the ball went in four or so feet from the corner, and he was not a rocket shot either. For me szczesny is a top class keeper and has made some outstanding saves for us this season, but he got the freekick wrong today.
    We shot ourselves in the foot today. It just aint good enough how we got so caught out when leading. We now have lots of speed in attack, so why the need to over commit. When are the players going to take responsibility and show some brains on the pitch. Read the game situation.

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  15. Id have said when the ball was struck he was in the centre of the goal but I shall have another look later

    Looked like a damn fine free kick to me

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  16. I think the reason we had a lot of players up the field was we were trying to score a second goal which, as matters turned out, would have been extremely handy

    I suppose the other option would have been to rely on the 1-0 lead, not go for a second and possibly decisive goal, and let Swansea come on

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  17. it was a good free kick, no doubt, but felt it should have been saved, I would say the ball actually went in over Szczesny’s hand, so very savable. But that is how our run is going all season, we are missing too many of our chances and our opponents are scoring most of theirs, when nearly all the goals we have let it could be put down to individual mistakes. but then they do say that on average there are 6 mistakes made on every goal scored.

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  18. I agree with you there Georgaki. This shite has happened too many times. And to be hinest, despite the arrival of Sanchez, the fact we failed to address the centre of defence and the midfield in the summer transfer window is really biting us on the arse.

    Wenger has done something I never thought possible; he has made Paul Merson look intelligent.

    There are far too many players playing way below the standards expected of them too. But the ease with which this team can lurch into low confidence and poor form, giving the media ammo for talk of a crisis, is alarming, not least beccause it has happened numerous times over the last few years.

    I have not been posted on here too regularly due to other commitments, but I am not sure I would have any way as I don’t think most would like what I have to say. Wenger has attempted to make do with his defence and central midfield for too long and we are getting our just deserts in terms of results and performances. But I am going to stop now…

    Sorry George, Fins, Paul, Shotta, Ani.

    Take care

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  19. its disappointing that we are throwing away leads

    at this level concentration of players must be at a very high level, in game intelligence too. i cant believe we let their player take on chambers so many times..we need to hold possession better..our general skill needs to go up still..Ramseys game not as efficient last season and continues to have those lapses of concentration..that fancy turn made no sense and accounts for more than half the blame for their first goal..ox has so much pace and he had a very bright game..but is a little naive..for some reason i could not fault cazorla..we lost the match because we threw it away..arsene nailed it..players are just not stepping up..our English core needs more education 😐

    Arsene must answer a valid question : podolski and rosicky are being under used..why? 😦

    however i am not concerned..we are playing very decently..i’d take these anyway over matches where we struggle to put together couple of good passes.

    i am confident we will bounce back..but it looks really hard that we will win a trophy this season..but that alright. i just hope we retain this exact same squad next season and hopefully we add a defender.

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  20. I saw no attempt at dealing with the OBVIOUS problem with Chambers and Montero….Did Arsène or Bould prowl the technical area trying to issue some tactical advise? Sorry, everybody, but I’m struggling. Whilst the players must take much of the blame, the manager must as well…..

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  21. I think I’ll sign off tonight because I’m pissed off………

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  22. I’m sure he does Georgaki.

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  23. as good as the ox was going forward, he should have helped out Chambers a lot more. I see after the game Wenger admitted Chambers got the run around, but he did not bring on Bellerin cos he is inexperienced, crazy really. It surely could not have been worse with Bellerin. Also begs the question, why was Jenkinson loaned out if Bellerin not ready to be used.
    We are told Wenger gives youth a chance, when in fact he only gives them a chance in league cup and other meaningless cup games. Bellerin should be our right back till Debuchy comes back, Chambers should be at CB till Kos is fit. and even the likes of Ajayi should be used at CB before using Monreal there, I would always go for a player playing in his natural position, even if inexperienced than an experienced player out of position. Its a pity Hayden got injured this season just at the point when it looked like he was about to get games.

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  24. You’ll be back Dex – there are always seats on the bus available

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  25. Bad result today. More grist for the mill. Just have to take it in stride.

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  26. I went and did half a dozen sudokus after the game, just to get me out of my depression. Was hoping someone on here might have seen a silver lining.
    I think Arsene has to take most of the blame because of his failure to have an adequate defensive balance in the squad. Nacho’s doing the best he can but he’s not a natural CB and doesn’t really have the physique for it. And why nothing was done to get some support over to Chambers when he was being given such a hard time is beyond me. Was the dugout so low they didn’t see what was happening? It was just a matter of time before Montero got an accurate cross in.
    Defensive midfield is also poor – Flamini is a battler but over the hill and Aaron just isn’t the player he was between February 2013 and May 2014.
    Silver linings? Well, we’re beginning to see some consistent good form going forward from Ox – and Alexis keeps scoring. Other than that, they’re looking jaded already. We can forget any title talk – at this rate, Chelsea will be home and dry by Xmas and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they are undefeated. Far and away the best and most consistent team in the PL.
    Any lack of action in the January transfer window is going to make the natives extremely restless. Maybe if this season is a flop and next season doesn’t go too well either, we can get Guardiola in for 2016/17.

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  27. Jesus, even this place isn’t safe today. Wow…

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  28. Now is not the time to join the ranks of the fortitude less

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  29. This will surprise no one, but Eduardo’s comment about Aaron losing the ball by trying a ‘fancy turn’ was nagging at me. I didn’t remember it that way. So, I went back and watched it again…and again…and again. Here’s what actually happened. A bit of miscontrol from Alex, the ball gets away from him, and Santi tries unsuccessfully to retrieve. It bounces loose from a Swans player and Aaron tries to retrieve it. He almost does so but is immediately dispossessed. The ‘fancy turn’ was him turning on a dime in an attempt to get it back, after he’d already lost the ball. He failed. Then, Swansea break, Kieran fouls (he had no choice there, to me) and blah, blah, blah.

    Look, there are issues. But piling on doesn’t help. And if you’re going to blame people, at least take the time to look at it again and see if you saw what you thought you saw before firing off. In the heat of the moment, I’m never sure about what I’ve seen, except when the ball hits the back of the net (even then, the side netting will fool me, sometimes!)

    My biggest worry right now is that the team and the manager won’t have time to analyze this performance while it’s still fresh. Stupid internationals.

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  30. Not much to say, I will continue to support. This team, apart from injuries, was the class of the PL. the problem is collective, I believe. I don’t agree that you can pinpoint anyone area apart from defending as a whole.

    My other point is that the midweek match would take a lot out of any team and as I watched the game, I saw it was the ref who stuck it to us. I doubt Swansea beats us, if the officials call the midweek match correctly. Confidence is a something else. Look a big money City, Pool and United. The only top team that won was Chelsea and the refs had a big hand it that, yet again. Ramires should have gotten a red and the Cahill handball was a stonewall pen.

    As far as the match, it’s time for us to park the bus. Defend the crap out of leads, for the time being.

    I support AW 100%.

    Arsenal!

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  31. reading most of the comment, its obvious we do not agree on what actually is the real reason behind the recent sloppy performance of the team. even mertesacker and wenger dont seem to agree or know the cause. personally i think i’ll go with per than wenger as far as our performace in the swans game goes. we were good untill we scored. what made us good? we played simple. that is the real and serious way to play. everyone played his role until the goal came. after the we began to loose ball and drible in dangerous area.

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  32. We don’t seem to play very well when it starts raining.

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  33. FH, that’s a bit of a problem for a team in England…

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  34. We were the class of the PL last season, that is.

    United did win, but they are nothing special. For some reason the top teams are struggling, apart from Chelsea, and they got a lot of help on Saturday.

    I remember us locking up shop last season, by bringing on extra defensive players. We may not like that approach but I think we should go back to that. We also need to stifle the wing play and stop easy crosses from coming in. That again is about collective play, not just the central defense. Losing your first choice RB and CD along with your first choice striker and a number of midfielders can’t help with cohesive play, that’s for sure.

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  35. I agree with Per about the team playing controlled throughout the game also.

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  36. Rain stopped play ? Its a thought !

    What perhaps raised the level of consternation, well it did for me, about yesterday’s result is that unlike our three most recent defeats in serious games, to Chelsea, Dortmund and way back in April to Everton yesterday was a game in which we faced a team who in terms of quality we were should have been better than.

    We have better players than Swansea, more experienced players, we play more inventive football, our away record in the PL is very good including at the Liberty, and yet on the day we failed to impose those advantages on the pitch. And yesterday was not a game in which referees or tiredness or any other excuse was relevant.

    Although I am not enthused about the international break it does at least allow the side, the players and manager to focus on sorting out what is required over the games against Manyoo and Dortmund in order to get our season moving forward again.

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  37. For some reason I’m not as pained about this loss as I would expect. Maybe because Swansea played well, Sigurdsson,s goal was quality and it is pretty obvious to me what weaknesses were exploited.

    Nacho has looked pretty ok as a CB till late in games where the other team simplifies things and exploit his height deficiencies.
    Solution? Play CC as CB till Kos ( + Hayden) return. Means young Hector must play more minutes. Nacho and Gibbs alternate @ LB.
    This sharing of responsibility between the 5 healthy defenders we have (+Ajayi) should suffice. AW has to trust his newbies more.

    Joel C needs more PT. As do TR and Poldi.
    Santi is best in CM. Way more savvy than Rambo, who might have to regain form as a supersub for the time being. Jack looks cocksure so he gets the nod as starter and temp cover for Flamini and Arteta.
    Greater wingplay should be our 1st line of defence, with Theo back (and Gnabry), Santi can be moved back to CM, Ox, DW and Alexis can continue the hi-speed mesmerizing and Joel C and Theo can provide the alternate superfast+savy possession option rqd to see out games.

    What Giroud provides the team will be obvious once he returns.
    He’s been the biggest loss so far this term.
    His return should galvanize in no small measure.

    My feeling is that by the end of the year Mourinho will be thanking his stars that Arsenal lost so many players to injury.
    I don’t see us losing many more games this season.
    At all.

    ARSENAL!

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  38. The whole match was surreal for me, as a weekend work commitment meant I didn’t get to see it “as live” until much later in the evening. Fortunately I’d managed to avoid knowing the score, although in retrospect I could have saved myself some heartache. Better commentators than me will have said most of what needs to be said, but I am with Andy Nic on this one: we just didn’t look that good and it is hard to know exactly why. We weren’t bad, but we just didn’t seem to have the extra that should make these sort of games well within our compass.
    A pity, but there it is.

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  39. To reiterate:
    I think JC, TR & Poldi are our best game closers at the moment and need to play more.
    The away tie in Belgium showed this.
    Rambo, Theo, Gnabry, Yaya & OG cover basic substitutions.

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  40. We have to suck it up guys. Dissappointments are inherent to life just like the many euphoric times we enjoyed in the past. Swansea got their chances and took them, we didn’t. Such is the fine lines between success and failure. We are down but not out. Let the bitter purveyors of negativity have their fun. Time and again we have been pronounced dead and buried and come back roaring. We shall return.

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  41. i hate to lose whenever there is an international break. i use to feel terribly sick for the next two weeks.

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