Arsenal : Oh Cruel Fate …..

The End of the World

“Oh Cruel Fate, when wilt thou weary be?

When satisfied with tormenting me ?

What have I e’er designed, but thou hath crost ?

All that I wished to gain by thee, I’ve lost.”


Good afternoon Positivistas,

Though for some of you it may still not be beyond noon, and for all of us the adjective “good” is at best superfluous and more likely grossly inaccurate. A hugely disappointing performance at Trafford Park, and a result that may have reduced the genuine chance of a Premier League title that we came into the game with to an outcome of arithmetical possibility, again.

On paper, that deadly old ‘paper’ that so often defies and upends logic in football, we were favourites to win in Manchester. On ‘paper’ the makeshift United side, poor at home and weak away, their manager on the abyss, reliant on youngsters, was a Sunday lunch that should have been efficiently consumed. Instead we slink away, beaten, in truth deservedly beaten, and with a degree of embarrassment. It is one thing to be cut open by Barcelona, quite another to be dissected as we were for the third, horrendous and ultimately decisive goal from Herrera this afternoon.

With the exception of Petr Cech, Hector and Danny Welbeck I doubt any of our players will feel much satisfaction today, or look back on the ninety minutes as a game in which they performed to their abilities. The passing was not crisp, the several goal scoring chances we created just not sharply enough take, the TEMPO that needed to get hold of the ball and seize control of the game was never there. We performed at 6 out of 10, when at least 7 was required. I do not intend to launch a witch-hunt and identify who did what, or did not do what. That is not my, or our, way on Positively Arsenal. We bring support, not accusation, despite the winds blowing bleak in our faces some days. I suspect however that the starting line up today will not be the same as begins against Swansea nor at the Lane next Saturday. And that leads us on to the reality of football, that all glory, all despair, elation or deflation is transient.

Right, so having got the sack-cloth and ashes routine out of the way I see that we have 11 Premier games to play, and 33 points therefore to play for. It is time to steady the ship, not rock the boat. The first of those games, as I say, is against the Swans on Wednesday at home, a contest that is eminently winnable. As long as we are not playing the game on ‘paper’. Our North London neighbours, who much to their credit earned three valuable points against the same visitors today, have a slightly rougher trip to the Boleyn ground on the same night. Let us claw a little self respect back, and three useful points, before the game at the Lane, then see where we are on Saturday morning.


I am sure you will understand If I provide a slightly shorter version of the match report this afternoon. I sense the reduced burden will benefit us all.





40 comments on “Arsenal : Oh Cruel Fate …..

  1. Andrew that was a brief obituary, straight up my street by the way. But I disagree with the general condemnation of the squad. In the wake of losing to a historic rival, whom many have judged to be past it, there is a tendency to diss the loser and big-up the winner.

    As I said earlier on the pre-game blog, we lost fair and square but it wasn’t a disgraceful performance. We made two silly mistakes and were punished. My biggest concern today is unlike vs Leicester we didn’t create many clear cut chances despite superior possession. Apart from Welbeck none of the starting front three looked like scoring and even Giroud when he came on must have got one header directed at goal. AW won’t publicly beat up on any individuals but therein lies the problem.

    PS: I hope those who mindlessly chat shit, note that even without scoring goals, Santi Cazorla provides that extra creativity in making gilt edge chances for our forwards. Absence makes my heart grow even fonder.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Quite right Shotts – I thought when we scored the first that we would come out with real urgency and open up the Manc back four. Varela was one dodgy tackle away from a red as was Carrick, but we never really turned up the heat until the final 5 minutes. The 3rd goal though – a real killer.


  3. A hot bath and an open razor might be the answer today.


  4. A disappointing result and not so good performance, but as bleak as it looks at the moment I have the belief that this team will get it back together and go ahead to clinch the title. And to point out the obvious ; it is nice to come in here and read the calm and rational summary to the afternoon, it is a totally crazy out there – my usual fb forums and such.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I demand a witch hunt. I am entitled.


  6. It always hurt more when the defeat was self-inflicted. Those 2 quick goals broke us and it was erratic after that. I’d love to see Ramsey energy and commitment further up the field. Not to point fingers at Alexis, just get the feeling he try too hard at the moment doing things on his own. Ramsey and Giroud upfront might rekindle what was a very useful love affair.

    Great composure on the blog Andrew. It timely soften the blow.


  7. Anicoll

    A true leader. Well done. Thanks


  8. I think not having a deeper playmaker is taking its toll on our style of play. We built very few attacks from deep and this made us entirely too predictable. Santi’s absence is killing us and we have no one to take his place. Ramsey is not a central midfielder, he needs to be further up the pitch creating chances.


  9. You took many of the words out of my mouth Andrew. But for what they are worth, the old fart’s thoughts:
    I think we have to face the fact that at least one, if not two, of our “stars” need to be benched…one maybe not even making it to the bench. Both are guilty of losing/giving away possession far too frequently…and neither are scoring.
    But it’s not just two guilty,: how did we lose the tenacity, the speed of thought, movement into space and the real will to win, which I fear was missing today? It’s almost a case of if our first attempt doesn’t score, we go into a shell. Hermit crabs.
    Oh well, the Merlot’s breathed nicely. Time to over indulge and drown the sorrow.
    Keep the faith for next week’s 2 games.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Spot on Andrew,thank god for this place. I’m off for a proper drink.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. It’s the midfield, that is where the problem lies….

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Well done A5, difficult to write after such a poor performance. I can’t take Hector and Danny out of the firing line, the appearance of a decent game from them was only because the rest were so bad.
    The only positive I can’t take from today is that extra tickets for Villa will be easier to come by

    Liked by 2 people

  13. As I remarked to Alabama Gooner on Twitter, who in their right mind expected ManU to be so efficient and clinical? 7 shots, 5 on target. Even the one which deflected off Koscielny was heading up to the Cesc’s top left corner. They have made total fools of those who expected a slumbering, tentative performance.

    In my short career of supporting Arsenal, i have learnt there is an iron law of nature; every team raises their game against us. We are the biggest scalp. Look at Van Gaal dramatics, rolling on the ground like a child, if you have any doubt. Our players (and fans) must realize it takes a lot of balls to wear that cannon on the shirt.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. That was not great. And as always, the team seem to get seriously punished for defensive mistakes. And as so often happens, opponents score within the first few shots on target….if not the first.
    Shotta, great point about Caz, have been banging the drum on this myself, he …or someone like him is beyond essential to this team. Luckily, we have replacements for this type of role……erm….Jack……Rosicky…..
    The injury to Cazorla is one of the worst things to happen to this team, amplified when you combine it with Coq at the same time…I just do not think, despite a couple good results, we have since recovered from that. We at times seem flat and one paced, some seem to be trying their best to do jobs they are not suited to.
    Some players are out of form, benching may be appropriate, but with the Cazorla conundrum, I am going to go a bit easier on them than I otherwise might.
    This team need to get back on it, but perhaps, a bit like Utd, mid week, need a bit of cannon fodder to rediscover a bit of form.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. once again we seen a glorious scoring chance spurned (this time by Monreal), where our player refused to shoot with his weaker foot, and by the time the ball had fallen to his strong foot the best scoring chance was lost, as De Gea had been given the time to get out to block. And that chance was when it was still 0-0,

    In our 27 BPL games so far we have dropped 30 points (= to 10 defeats), by the way 15pts dropped in the 14 games Cazorla in our midfield, and 15pts dropped in the 13 he has missed.



    Arsène Wenger spoke to the media after Arsenal’s defeat to Manchester United. Below is a transcript of what was said:

    on his thoughts…
    I felt that we had a lot of the ball and a lot of possession. We favoured their game plan because we conceded two quick goals and at 2-0 down it is difficult. You have to take a gamble. I think the biggest regret was we had so much of the ball but we conceded three goals. It is difficult to win away from home after that.

    on his regrets on playing an attacking team…
    No because I’m convinced Welbeck, Walcott and Alexis can defend well when it is needed. When you analyse the goals, we lost the ball in our own half for the first one but after that they were just crosses today.

    on the title…
    Nobody knows. We dropped three important points today. We have to have a better level of fight than that and have to bounce back on Wednesday night and not feel sorry for ourselves. That is what it means. After, mathematically what is means, we will know at the end of the season .

    on why Arsenal couldn’t score…
    I think they defended well. Every time we could get into the flow they stopped us with little free-kicks in the middle of the park and then we had to play again. On the set pieces, I think we should have done more with the free-kicks we had around the box and from the middle of the park we weren’t dangerous enough.

    on what he thinks of Van Gaal throwing himself to the floor…

    on if managers should do that…
    You will have to ask him that question. I’m not one to comment on that because after you will say I’m a sore loser and I’am.

    on disappointments at Old Trafford…
    Let’s not go overboard. They had a few millions on the pitch today. From De Gea to their whole midfield who were experienced. They spent a lot of money on it. The player who was surprising for me was Rushford because the times we were in the danger was in the box and he could be a surprise for Manchester United from what I have seen today.

    on why the big players didn’t turn up…
    It is difficult to give my assessment after a game like that. I will leave that to you. You are big enough and strong enough to do that.

    on the experienced players…
    It was a different game for us. The team put the effort in but we struggled to be dangerous, that is true because they defended well. I will have to analyse the game again.

    on the points dropped…
    It is still possible. We will have to answer quick and strong.

    Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160228/wenger-on-the-loss-regrets-and-defeat#g9B5QLkdwRwxScp0.99


  17. I think the most telling comment from Wenger was

    “We have to have a better level of fight than that”,

    and I would say that most if not all Gooners would agree with his sentiments, the performance today was oh so flat, and so many of our players were brushed off the ball far too easily, and showed no willingness to fight to get the ball back, they just complained to the ref or each other when it happened, getting the ball back seemed to be an after thought.


  18. Yes very odd eddy – a short while before those same players battled for 95 minutes with a far superior side to that we faced today, and then flattened them in the final seconds. Earlier in the week we competed with the same quality and energy as “the greatest club side ever” for 70 minutes at least. And yet today the fire was not there, the steel deficient. Very frustrating. We may see if it is a redeemable weakness on Wednesday.

    Good record at the Ems have Swansea – on paper.


  19. JG ‏@Artekkers 7h7 hours ago
    You could clearly hear *that* chant on TV, but will any action be taken? Doubt it


  20. LVG said he wanted his players “hungry and horny” for today’s game, not exactly sure he got that from them, but I would say that the Arsenal players performed like they had before the game gorged themselves on a feast and had shagged themselves to a standstill


  21. A5: You lied to me. (banned smiley)

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Ozil’s goal and assist today leaves him with 5 goals and 18 assists in 25 BPL games this season


  23. Arsenal 14-15;
    P27-W15-D6-L6 F51 A29 GD+22 Pts 51

    Arsenal 15-16;
    P27-W15-D6-L6 F43 A26 GD+17 Pts 51


  24. Interesting Ed…think,we need to move forward a bit!
    We need Cazorla ,a great player, but one who gets better every time we are without him.
    Think the problem today….Utd fielded a lesser team, but they faced cannon fodder midweek….and ..erm…we didn’t….confidence is a strange, undefinable thing. Something the boys need to find, and fast, not easy in a run of difficult games, we should navigate such matches if we want to be contenders.
    Is it my perception or is Feb one of our bad months……hopefully better things ahead

    Liked by 2 people

  25. having beaten LCFC in our last BPL game, the team should have really been up for the game today, but they played like they were feeling sorry for themselves. Coquelin and Alexis have not been in good form since their return from injury, thankfully Welbeck has returned in good form. Walcott is so off form I can’t believe it, he has never been in this bad of form for such a long run of games.
    Ramsey some way from his best too, and Campbell who has not been at his best is now not getting game time.
    Gabriel and Koscielny looks, at this moment in time, as bad as the Koscielny Vermaelen partnership.

    Is the poor form as simple as, the guys can’t handle the expectations and pressure of a title challenge, or is it a problem of team selection and tactics

    of course 5pts off top, with 33pts to play for, is not an insurmountable gap, but I’d say the reason people are so worried about it, is that, we have not been in top form for much of the season, we are not scoring freely, and we cough up soft goals far too often, and nearly every time we have been in a position to go top this season we have put in a below par performance.

    At the moment our forwards are all (bar Welbeck with 2 in 2 BPL games since his comeback), out of form, Alexis has one league goal since October, Giroud has not scored in six BPL, 9 in all competitions, his last goals was against Liverpool back in the middle of January. Walcott has 1 goal in December, none in January and 1 in February, and by and large he has been playing very poorly.

    the lack of goals is all the more perplexing when we consider that we have the assist king that is Ozil, 18 BPL assists so far, 5 goals too, and he has been creating lots of chances, that we are just not taking, and to me, in recent games Ozil has looked annoyed at his team mates for their misses, and when moves have broken down, and has also shown frustration with team mates after we have let in goals.
    Ramsey has not scored in six weeks either, Joel has 2 BPL goals all season, Ox has only 1, and Iwobi is yet to score a first team goal.
    With the ability of these players it is somewhat unfortunate and rather odd, that all our goal scorers are out of form at the same time.

    Cech, Per, Ozil, Alexis, Giroud, Campbell, Welbeck, Elneny, are players who have between them, won top International Titles, CL, BPL, and leagues in other countries, and nearly all our squad have won an FA Cup or two, so we know they have shown the temperament and skill to win trophies, so why are so many struggling for form this season. Is it team selection, formation, or tactics, or something else. Any thoughts guys.


  26. We didn’t play well today and the balls fell for utd and to be fair they took the gift with both hands. We should have had a penalty though before halftime when Rashford handled the ball on the line but Welbeck was obstructing the ref’s view and he couldn’t see it.
    I still think we are going to click because all signs point in that direction. One game we create lots of chances and can’t score then another game we can’t create but somehow score.
    Though Arsene now has to come up with a solution to that midfield problem. Our entire game relies on the functionality of that midfield and at the moment, our midfield is not functioning as it should, and its affecting the rest of the team. We need to either find a midfield pairing that works or change formation to fit the players available.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Good day positivistas. Its been a while.
    The pain cut deeper than I ever imagined.

    Santiago Cazorla & his ability to intelligently simplify passing between our resident assist genius Oz and the others without any loss of dynamism.

    Coquelin, Alexis & Welbeck back in sync. Quick return from injury is clearly not a given.

    A cockier Gabriel. Might need to have a seance with Keown, Bould, Dixon & Adams to really understand what it means to defend for the Arsenal……or just work harder on his English!

    Bring back Joel Campbell, who was on a good run of form before the return of Alexis & Danny. He offers a great 2nd option to Ozil, good defence in the MF, and better ball retention than Rambo.

    Play Theo on the wings. Forget starting him as CF. It seems to stifle his range. It seems to take too long (or a quick goal) for him to free himself from “oh wow, I’m actually playing as CF” mode.

    Without Santi, Oz has to play a deeper role, the no 8, to feed the frontline, especially Alexis who (seems to me) needs to focus more on movement into killer zones without the ball.

    More Elneny. Not suffering from the weight of being a gunner yet. Swashbuckler who could compliment LeCoq & Oz in the MF.

    Petr Cech. Solid as ever.

    Kos. Solid, solid, solid.

    Per. Despite the late Barca error, way less panicky than Gabriel. Def would have been better starting yesterday. His presence also benefits Hector in more ways than are obvious.

    Nacho. Solid. Makes overlapping look so easy with his passing decisions. I hope Gibbs (the better athlete) is learning..especially how patience breeds confidence. If they could both add more goals to their CVs, we’d be in a higher orbit at the moment.

    Hector & Chambers have been good but definitely require the swagger of the older players to return asap. Calum’s impressed on his cameos.

    11 games, 33 points still to play for. Yesterday could be the blip we needed to shake things up some.Over to you AW.

    I still believe.

    “… if you’re a supporter of a club, you have to be, through thick, thin, laughter, smiles and tears” – Bob Wilson

    Liked by 2 people

  28. That just about covers it Aman !!

    I thought Elneny looked good yesterday and it has to help to have a taller midfield player to pair alongside the medium sized selection we have on show. He seemed to be quicker than in the two FA Cup games and read the game better. The boy will have to get a little more savvy about the rules of the game and his tackling. He did well in a hostile game but after picking up a silly yellow Pawson erred on the side of mercy in not whipping out a second yellow for a worse foul on Lindegard 5 minute later. I can see him keeping his place on the bench at least on Wednesday and if Le Coq is struggling with his fitness maybe to start.


  29. ‘It’ is being too hyped up, too tense, too worried about making a mistake to play our natural game Eddy.


  30. well if that is the case Anicol, then we have no chance of the title, as the games are only going to be more intense, and the stakes getting bigger and bigger. If they can’ handle the pressure 12 games out, how on earth will the handle the pressure 4, 3, 2, 1 game to go. Our players are not kids, as I said yesterday we have guys who have won leagues in other countries, we have World Cup winners, Copa America winner, in Cech’s case he has won CL, BPL, FAC, LC, 21 or 22 full internationals in our squad, all our squad have one or two FA Cup medals, and we have lcfc and thfc as the main title rivals, with only city of the big teams to contend with, its not as if its city, and CFC and MUFC, so if the players can’t handle this situation, then we certainly are in big trouble, as it means the entire squad needs an overhaul if we are ever to win the BPL.


  31. eduardo,
    have to agree with anicoll5, we need to relax…probably starting with AW.
    He might need to re-enact the LVG slump @ the Ems on wednesday.
    The Swans know how to beat us @ home!


  32. It seems to me that you probably need either Wilshere or Cazorla playing alongside Coquelin or ElNeny. And slightly further forward two at least of Ramsey, Cambpell, Oxlade or Alexis providing workrate and midfield umph. Which then leaves Ozil to swan about being a genius and knitting it all together and hopefully playing in one of our 2 and a half main strikers.
    Or something.
    But as I didn’t see the game I am only really going on all of your comments. What does seem true is that we have stuttered and sputtered for much of the season and only occasionally looked like the dare to dream side that we actually might be.


  33. Something struck me as I keep going over the United game and thinking of the reaction online by our supporters. If you took a poll of the latter it would be almost universal that Arsenal lost because they played badly or under-performed. There is hardly a recognition that United played well especially their midfield of Schneiderlin and Carrick who snuffed out almost all our threats down the middle and built a platform for their counterattacks. They were super-efficient on offence with 5 out of 7 shots on target. If we fail to give the opponents the credit they are due, we are bound to make the mistake of attacking our players unjustifiably. I have already seen on my twitter timeline hardly extremists describing Alexis as “Gervinhoesque” and Ozil as Arsenal’s “worst signing in 20 years”. That is the definition of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    To me we have very good players who under normal conditions can play at 70% and win most games but playing for Arsenal you have to be 100% every game as our rivals see us as the supreme our scalp. That is supremely difficult standard to meet but it needs commitment from the players as well as a supportive fanbase. Just saying.


  34. As usual….. nice and calm over here, the Arsenal blog which practises yoga and zen.
    Ommm Ommm


  35. Aman…what we are missing – I would add an Arteta in his prime figure to your list.
    Versatile, tactically savvy, calm, streetwise, respected, talented, and an excellent organiser.
    We had no such player out there yesterday, especially with Per not out there. Ok, Cech, but he cannot do so much for the MF or forwards.
    Even the usually very sensible , non hysterical, pro wenger Ray Parlour is saying leadership has become an issue
    Serious food for thought for Mr Wenger this summer if he wants to move this team forward, and reduce the number of displays like yesterday.
    None of them are bad players, or lack desire, yesterday, they lacked organisation, and as a result, confidence.


  36. Yes Mandy, yes. MA8 in his prime would def have helped snuff their central midfield out.
    Juan Mata was borderline unplayable yesterday.
    He made our CMFs look simple sadly.


  37. Man U took a direct page from Alex Ferguson’s playbook on how to play us by using quick transition-counter attacks and with Mata unchecked. It worked.
    Carrick, Memphis, Lingard & Blind played to instruction well also.
    Rashford’s patience was impressive.


  38. Ashford’s patience was impressive but def cut & paste.
    “Don’t overplay, conserve your energy till there’s a counter-attack. Wait for the quick cross, then strike!”

    Rooney et al have spanked us like this before.
    But if Nacho had scored first…they’d have lost their discipline and it would have been a different outcome.

    so…WHAT WE MISS (2):
    Ruthlessness. Knife on the throat asap in a game.
    RE: our 3-0 @ the Emirates


  39. If we keep freezing up like we did yesterday Eddy I very much doubt we have any chance of the PL title this season anyway.

    The baffling thing about yesterday, and other performances when we have played well below par and been punished is that they have come in games where we expected to do well, to win. Yesterday, against the Saints away, against WB, all three of which had poor PL form, and even against the Ammers (who a few days before had been slung out the Europa league by Maltese opponents) we were firm favourites. And yet in all four games we failed to gather a single point.

    Compare that to our wins against Citeh, Leicester x2 , a much stronger Manc team in early October – games we expected to battle in – and the science is just not there, or at least I can’t see it.


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