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Arsenal Versus West Brom: Pardon My French

beauty beast

Tony Pulis. There I said it. I know George hates it when we use foul language on his blog. There are outlets which won’t promote Positively Arsenal if it employs such revolting epithets and we are all about the numbers here as you well know. The advertising revenue alone keeps us in swimming pools and pearls and we must not piss off our sponsors.

However there comes a time when difficult issues must be faced and the Pulis is one of those issues. It wasn’t always so. Back in his playing days he was part of the Bristol Rovers golden generation along with ‘Jockey’ Wilson, Devon White and Ian Holloway and I applauded like a Stoke fan every crunching tackle, every score settled.

Of course he blotted his copy book by going on to manage at Ashton Gate, a move which ensured he was despised by both the blue and red halves of the city. After a long and celebrated stint in the Potteries he has now wound up at West Bromwich Albion and thither the mighty Arsenal must travel today and secure a much needed three points.

You might recall I mentioned a young man of my acquaintance who travelled up to London town for the recent FA Cup tie. I saw him last night and asked about his Emirates experience and his face split into a huge grin as he recalled a wonderful day out. He showed me his latest Arsenal shirt and then we got down to the nitty gritty. ‘How was the match?’ I enquired. His answer, refreshing in its honesty, neatly summed up much of our season, ‘We were rubbish in the first half’ he replied ‘but then we were great and won five nil’.

Not so complicated this football lark, is it?

The problem we often experience when anticipating a match is not knowing which version of Arsène Wenger’s project will show up on the day. The tentative, nervous, pass it about at the back under ever increasing pressure until they give up and let the keeper hoof it forward edition, or the free flowing, inventive, confident, improvisational theatre of full blooded Wengerball. Sometimes we even get both in the same game.

People say it’s infuriating, I see it as an intriguing example of the huge role mental confidence and relaxation plays at the highest level in any sport. Andy Murray gave an interview where he said that losing in the Wimbledon final to Federer was the ultimate piece in his jigsaw to becoming a top player. Defeat in the game he’d always seen as the pinnacle of potential achievement meant he’d experienced the worst. With that out of the way there was nothing left to fear, and he could play with a freedom from which he’d previously been inhibited. He wasn’t a better or worse player he just got his head right.

You could see in Aaron’s finish last weekend how important it was for him to find the net. A couple of chances had gone awry, the kind of chances he was dispatching with aplomb in his best season for us, and even though his goal was essentially a tap in he really needed it and whacked the ball into the net with a cathartic flourish. Will it open the floodgates? Time will tell.

Aaron, like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain cannot be judged on this or recent seasons because both players are endlessly coming back from injuries. That or just about to get injured. It has been a frustrating time for them and I’m sure we all wish them a long sustained spell of good health and a proper chance to show what they are capable of.

Let’s hope Pulis and his boys don’t set out to further the injury woes of any of our players. It would be nice to see a sporting contest. The casual observer might deduce from our recent results that Arsenal is there for the taking, and this could, I suppose encourage in West Brom an adventurous spirit. I’d welcome this as the old attritional warfare against deep set defensive tactics is never easy on the eye. In any sport you cannot attack without creating vulnerabilities in defence so it might open the game up were they to sense blood.

I don’t actually believe Mr P will make the mistake of taking our results at face value. There has been some wonderful football among the dross and he will know that on our day we can demolish any side. The question he’ll be asking is very similar to the one I posed earlier. Which Arsenal side will show up at the Hawthorns today? Don’t be surprised if it’s a mix of both. To achieve one of the three hallowed places beneath champions elect Chelsea will call for some determined hard work as much as for fast moving, eye catching football. I’ll take a one nil win and some backs to the wall defending if it sets us on the right track for the run in. Of course I have the advantage of not travelling all the way to B71 and forking out for match tickets so I can be a little more relaxed about the nature of the performance.

If you are going I hope you enjoy a sizzling treat of speedy, confident Arsenal at its best and a result to match. If like me you will be at work from this morning right through to tomorrow lunchtime then I hope you avoid hearing the score and somehow navigate to the match on Arsenal Player without their giving the game away. They love to do that to us. Pages of headlines telling what happened before actually arriving at the match highlights and even then the video itself often displays a still clip from late in the game with the score clearly visible next to the time. It grinds my gears I don’t mind telling you.

See? Who says we’re afraid to criticise the club?

 

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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138 comments on “Arsenal Versus West Brom: Pardon My French

  1. Ed

    Genuine when I said I lost my head for 2nd half. Was there but not here. Got a good level of trust in your views though so if you say we were bad I’ll trust that.

    I’m now there but not there as there’s strange goings on in the scrum for my country vs France but, to be honest, it’s nowt to me next to Arsenal

    Like

  2. France have scored in the thousandth minute. One of those days

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  3. Extraordinary end to a game of rugby Rich

    Liked by 1 person

  4. well we can but hope that the cl bonus money is enough to get the players to raise their game, as it seems anything else has failed to raise them thus far. not wenger protests, not big games, not milestone games for wenger, not getting dropped by their country, not the chance to go top, or chance to put pressure on opponents, not chance to make up points on those ahead of us, not building a gap with those chasing us, so we are left with cold hard cash as the last bastion of hope

    Liked by 1 person

  5. looked like barnes was bottling the penalty try decision, good job france got it done regardless.

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  6. Des Powell‏ @dpowell248 2h2 hours ago

    @jimmv38 @TheArsenal_ Players have a duty to themselves and the fans to try.I don’t like all my passengers but I’m still professional.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Maybe there is another hope….unleash The Steve Bould of Old onto some of them . Perhaps a few need a bad cop

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  8. Wenger on WBA defeat and his future

    Questions about Arsène Wenger’s future have dominated plenty of the manager’s press conferences recently, and he was again asked about the matter following our defeat at West Bromwich Albion.

    Here’s what he said.

    Read the report from The Hawthorns
    FA Cup semi-final – ticket details

    on the performance…
    It was a difficult game, because it a was a typical Premier League game that you see a lot – with a team that has a lot of the ball and a team that defends deep and well, waiting for the counter-attack and set-pieces. West Brom did very well on that. We had 77 per cent of possession but we didn’t create enough chances. I think that’s firstly down to the quality of their defending and their hard work physically.

    on conceding goals on set-pieces and if he’ll criticise them…
    Our record on defending set-pieces is quite good since the start of the season, but I must say their delivery is absolutely great and we were a bit naive on their movement. I think on the first goal they blocked the keeper as well, and the third. It’s not easy for the keeper to intervene in that kind of situation.

    on the attitude of the players…
    I think you don’t see any obvious signs of lack of attitude. That’s what people always criticise when you lose a game. I think we took the responsibility to take the game to them, and it didn’t work today. We are certainly a bit short of confidence as well, but I don’t think it’s an attitude problem.

    image: http://www.arsenal.com/assets/_files/images/mar_17/gun__1489849433_GX-highlights-WBA.jpg
    Granit Xhaka in action against West Brom
    Granit Xhaka in action against West Brom

    on the plane banners and if that affects his future…
    I watch the game, I do not watch the stands during the game. I believe that you have to live with that. You focus on your job, no matter what people think.

    on if supporters will unite if he makes decision on future…
    I don’t know. Don’t worry, I know what I will do in my future. You will soon know. Very soon.

    on if he’s decided on his future…
    You will see. I don’t think today I necessarily worry about that. We are in a unique bad patch that we’ve never had in 20 years. We lose game after game at the moment, and that is for me much more important than my future.

    on getting into the top four…
    It will be a big fight, I agree with you. It will be very difficult now. Anyway, there’s no other way than by fighting and doing it until the last game of the season. Then, if it’s not good enough, we have to take the consequences. And then maybe one day if we don’t do it, people will enjoy it again to be in there.

    on if atmosphere from fans affects his team during a game…
    I don’t know. In our job it’s like when you have a problem with your engine – you can always find many problems, but it’s important to find the most important one. I think the most important one today was that we had 77 per cent of possession and didn’t create many chances. We have to focus on that. Fans are a bit disappointed, which I can completely understand. [But that doesn’t] explain why we have not created goal chances.

    on if anyone else knows what he will do in the future…
    I know what I do.

    on if anyone else knows…
    No, no, no.

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20170318/wenger-on-wba-defeat-and-his-future#OF7lqGi2v7vdmAA1.99

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  9. yes Mandy, need the Steve Bould who grabbed Alex Song by the throat for being disrespectful to AFC and his team mates at training.

    Wenger’s normal response to players who act up or let him down is to sell them in the summer, but has he ever had so many do it at the same time

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  10. The latest on Alexis’ ankle

    Alexis was substituted with 12 minutes to go against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday afternoon.

    After the match, Arsène Wenger confirmed that the Chile striker was withdrawn due to an injury picked up from a first-half tackle.

    Read the report from The Hawthorns
    Wenger on the West Brom game and his future

    Read on for more from the manager.
    ‘The legend I’d want to play with’
    Video poster

    on if Alexis was injured…
    He was injured from the tackle in the first half. It was a bad tackle. His ankle is in an absolutely terrible state. He should not have played in the second half but he insisted that he wanted to come out. In the first half he was the one who created many chances, made dangerous situations and in the second half you could see that he couldn’t anymore. In the end we had to take him off. He should not even have played in the second half.

    on if he’ll miss the Chile games…
    Chile goes to Argentina for a massive game but they play only next week and if it’s only a kick, he will play. If the ligament is damaged, he will not play.

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  11. Rich,

    I think you meant the 100th minute not the 1,000th [that would be about 17 hours] lol

    Liked by 1 person

  12. we are now ahead of everton by one goal. we do have two games in hand, but we have to play them too.

    if we dont make top 4, would it be better for us if we don’t make el either. give us an extra 6 or more midweeks off.

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  13. anicoll

    crazy. Can’t pretend I know what the hell went on there. Like I said though I’m prob not a real Welshman, as Arsenal matters so much more to me.

    Prob fault of having a forceful Scottish dad (and half bro and sister) and half English mum, none of whom indoctrinated me in Welsh ways (especially dad who, if anything, was anti-Welsh.. and most things. Declared himself no longer Scottish and only Glaswegian after their independence vote)

    Had to find my sporting way by myself, and it was a bloody Merson curler against Notts Forest in early nineties that did it.

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  14. Henry

    Pretty sure I did that deliberately, but give it another couple of hours and maybe not

    Liked by 1 person

  15. And therein lies my fear for Wenger if he does stay Ed, do not think the manager or club are really set up for wholesale change
    Probably should stop reading things into the mans words, but the way he phrased it, he knows his decision, he will tell the players and board…etc….that says to me that it is his decision alone, refuting board claims of a mutual decision, or that he has decided to go

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  16. one thing on when Wenger goes, whenever that may be, the choice of his replacement will tell us much about our plans

    if its a Howe or similar type appointment then it would look like AFC are taking the less expensive option, both wages wise, and transfer spend wise, the likes of Howe would be far more likely to accept the job even if transfer budgets mean we go for the cheaper options in the market, they would more likely accept it as its a career step up, and a massive wage step up, and of course even our restricted budgets would look massive compared to what he currently works with.

    if we appoint a Allergi or similar type, then it would look like AFC are trying to build on what Wenger has done. As I could not see the likes of Allergi taking the job unless he is promised the funds are available for him to bring in the players he wants. This does not mean it would have to be man utd type spending, but the £100M a season mark or there abouts would likely have to be available to entice a big name manager.

    I expect that we will soon see a Director of Football at Arsenal, even Robert Pires has been suggesting its on its way, Wenger who has traditionally been opposed to the idea, said recently that it is something he would now not be opposed to it, and that it just has to be done right.

    this summer

    we will see new players at Arsenal,

    I think we will see a Director of football

    we will see a new Head of the Academy

    we might see an addition or two to the board – some reports that FA are looking for all clubs to meet new diversity rules, age, gender, color etc, so we might see a woman appointed, and or a non white person.
    of course if we appoint a director of football he would be on the board, and likely be a lot younger than most of the board, and most of those mentioned for the role are foreign so we could be killing two birds with one stone.

    now the only thing that is unknown at this point about the summer, is, will we be seeing a new manger at Arsenal
    if we do, then we will also see some new members on the coaching staff too.

    looks like we could have a very busy summer, on and off the pitch, on and off the board.

    sadly the one thing that is unlikely to change is our fan base, it is still going to be full of self entitled knobs looking for their 15 minutes of fame.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. one interesting name being mentioned as a possible for both Head of Academy, and Director of football roles at afc is former youth goalkeeper nick hammond. He is currently Technical Director with WBA, after formerly being head of academy with Reading and then their Director of football.

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  18. afcstuff‏ @afcstuff

    Following his goal today, Alexis Sanchez has been involved in 100 goals for Arsenal in all competitions (64 goals and 36 assists). #afc

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  19. afcstuff‏ @afcstuff 3h3 hours ago

    Wenger on Alexis: “He should not have played in the second half, [but] he insisted. In the end, we had to take him off.” #afc

    Like

  20. Yes, the next few months will indicate a lot about our board, Wenger or no Wenger.
    It would appear structural change and a degree of succession planning might be advantageous, the board take a lot of stick in some quarters, but I would imagine a lot is going on behind the scenes.
    I think even if Wenger stays, they should put some major changes in place to support his continued tenure.
    Of he goes, they really have their work cut out. Howe would be a huge gamble, his team could be in a relegation fight.
    Allegri….not sure why he would leave Juve, but he may put a lot of demands on the board, they may not be used to that.
    If the man goes, can see them going for relatively safe , experienced types..who may put in more robust patterns of play…Rafa, Koeman….or if they want to keep the way they play, perhaps Pellegrini, tho he would not be my choice.
    The worry , if they end up groping around in the dark, we could get….heaven forbid, a Hodgson, or Martinez.
    Think the best scenario is Wenger sorts the issues the team regroup, they get a cup win and top four place, but I just cannot see that easily at the moment, unfortunately

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  21. At this point no matter who we have in charge, if the refereeing continues as is; we shall continue to struggle badly am afraid. I have reached a point where I have lost interest in Arsenal games and the PL in general because now it’s no longer about how good a team is football wise; the result is decided by who the referee fancies on the day.
    It would be unfair of me to condemn our players for a loss in a game where their efforts were constantly undermined by a ref not doing his job.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I bet we wouldn’t get such poor refereeing with Eddie Howe in charge……not that I want that BTW

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  23. arsenal only had two shots on target today

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  24. I can’t comment on how the team played as I did not see the match, so can only comment on the disappointing scoreline. For the first time I’m starting to doubt that we can pull this around before the end of the season. I hope I’m wrong and I’ll try to remain optimistic until it’s mathematically impossible. Probably a good idea therefore to keep away from the internet so I don’t get pulled into other people’s negativity as there is plenty of that to go around at the moment.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. ox gave an after game interview where he said – we knew how wba would play, counter attacks and set plays, we knew Dawson was a big danger on set plays, we knew we had to block the runs at set plays, we knew we had to win the headers at set plays, and that we did not cope with wba. But its alright cos Ox also said we would look at what went wrong and see how we don’t let it happen again. they must have the attention span of goldfish

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  26. edu, let’s not be decieved, any manager who comes after wenger and doesnt spend twice or tripple what arsene is currently being given will not make top 4. wenger is a genius to compete with this players. he even made top 4 with denilson, song, senderous and co. tell me what manager can do that?

    Liked by 1 person

  27. it’s really just that the team is better than this and it’s sad that the refs can’t allow them to play their game… its not like a team can’t have an off day and lose a match, but the refs can really do better!

    if they lose, let them lose but the refs should not allow them target players to the point of causing injury before grudgingly giving a card! and not the right one cos if that was Xhake… hmm…. allow offsides, obstruction of goalkeepers… these are given against us so…

    we still had enough to win though so it’s not all caused by the ref but you just can’t place your finger on how bad these things are… alas one who should have been red carded was invariably involved in one of the goals… that’s the reality.

    the team is fully capable of pulling themselves up just that we are now dependent on the results of others.

    I hope AW stays… I don’t think he has done all he can do. there is still much in that tank. I hope the team pulls themselves up and do so much better as they are capable of doing!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. there in lies the rub layksite, he did wonders to make top 4 with some of the squads he has had, but this lot, despite being far more talented don’t look like they are applying themselves to the levels the less talented squads did. that is why I am so annoyed with our players. its one thing to not have the talent, its a whole other ball game to not apply your talent. And I think our current players are not applying themselves as they could.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. ‘Only hard work will turn this around’

    Arsène Wenger insists his players will have to up their work rate in order to restore confidence for the final stretch of the season.

    The boss spoke to Arsenal Player after Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to West Brom, and acknowledged that the team need to use the international break to refocus on the challenges ahead, starting with a home game against Manchester City on April 2.

    “You find confidence back by working hard,” he said. “That makes you stronger. Now, on top of that, the players go away so it will not be easy.

    “They come back late and we have a big game at home, so hopefully we can prepare well and have no more injuries during the international break because we face Man City at home and it will be a very big game for us.

    “It’s sad that we have lost this game because it would’ve been good [for the international players] to leave on a positive note.”

    Wenger also outlined why he felt we failed to capitalise on the 77 per cent possession we enjoyed at The Hawthorns.

    “Our passing was a bit too slow, they defended well and the pitch was not fast as well. All that together didn’t help.”

    Copyright 2017 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/20170318/-only-hard-work-will-turn-this-around-#QIrsqOMkKBYQVb5Z.99

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  30. Its the perfect storm. We are in deep shit. But fear not, PA will be here tomorrow and next season. We support a great club,we take the rough with the smooth.
    Arsene has set the table and we will feast for years to come.

    Liked by 3 people

  31. ManUnitedTalk‏ @ManUnitedTalk 10h10 hours ago

    Somewhere in that Arsenal end DT is recording himself for the views, Claude is close to stabbing Ty and Robbie is counting his money, and Moh is thinking of what he’s going to say for 7 minutes to avoid actually making a point. Truly the greatest gift

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I think Per should have played at WBA after peter chec got injured to counter Wba ariel threat.

    AW got it wrong at this imo.

    Like

  33. Goonerholic‏ @TheGoonerholic 11h11 hours ago

    Alexis wasn’t rotationally fouled at all on MotD. The savage McClean challenge left out. Not surprising though.

    Like

  34. New post up

    Like

  35. After the match I came on here, and then decided to leave.

    Forgive me, because everyone has the right to call the game as they see it, but I didn’t see any lack of effort from our players and I don’t agree that they don’t care. I think they care a lot, possibly too much at times. They get no lucky breaks to help them on their way (quite the opposite in fact) and are constantly told how bad they are and have always been (because Arsenal is always terrible and in crisis)

    The only one believing in them and telling them they are good is the manager, but because we don’t get the results, maybe a doubt sets in. It certainly seems to have for a lot of even generally positive supporters.

    And if Wenger doesn’t get us top 4. So what? All the critics have been telling us it is worthless. Other clubs have done way worse than us in that regard and they seem to be ok despite it. And we have the money to deal with being out of the CL for a year or two, if the board are interested in spending it.

    If we are in a really bad state, if we really are as bad as we seem to think, I would have no one rather than Arsene Wenger to sort it out. Our consistency has not been by default. It is down to him that we’ve been able to right the ship time and time again despite our shortcomings and any obstacles put in our way.

    As to his future. If he’s staying, I would love it and I still believe we can go up a level. (things change very quickly in football) If he’s going, I will be doing all I can to go to the UK in May and be there for his last game, or any event the club hold to thank the man for his immense contribution.

    Liked by 1 person

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