I’m in a dilemma this morning. Not the classic Marmite or marmalade dilemma – that was resolved many years ago when I realised that one can simply have both. Not at the same time you understand, I’m not an animal. News from across the pond has reached me of an American ritual of spreading both peanut butter and jam (or jelly as they prefer to call it) upon the same sheet of white sliced but I think we ought to draw a veil over such heathen practises and focus on the football.
It is in fact a football related dilemma to which I refer in my opening salvo this morning. As I lay in my bath, prodding my rubber duck with an idle toe and waiting for my butler to deliver the cup that cheers, I cogitated upon the relative merits of the various teams in the Premier League and how we like to grade or distinguish them from one another.
It is popular to regard the likes of West Bromwich Albion, Hull City or today’s opponents Crystal Palace, to pluck three entirely random examples from the ether, as lesser sides. We use terminology such as weaker and lower, even beatable, sometimes eminently beatable.
While it is unquestionably true that the league table is an infallible barometer for separating sides into the upper tier and the also rans, I wondered as I toyed with my little plastic waterfowl, at the way we segregate teams and whether such distinctions have any real merit. You see, even though, in the beloved if hackneyed phrase, the table never lies, it is really only a transitory measure. Compare Chelsea and Leicester from last season to this. Even in the former’s season horribilis and the latter’s miracle year you wouldn’t have described Chelsea as a lower, or lesser team and Leicester as one of the top crop. Why? Prejudice maybe, snobbery, an habitual approach to different sides?
I would argue that Crystal Palace’s result against the league leaders, and West Brom’s against our own brave boys are not cases of lesser teams winning where they ought to be beaten. We need not to think of other sides in terms of greatness or lack of it but in terms of consistency. All the clubs in the top flight owe their place to merit or to wealth. On any given day any side can triumph over any other. It is consistency that separates the teams not ability.
Think like this and you lose that sense of amazed distraction when Southampton put four past us or Swansea beat us at home. Because a side is less consistent than us doesn’t give us an automatic right to assume we’ll meet them on one of their off days. The chance may be greater but that is all.
So today we face one of the less consistent sides in the league. Given their undoubted ability to beat a top team, just ask Antonio Conte if you don’t believe me, we ought to be cautious in making any wild predictions of a comfortable victory. Please don’t misunderstand me; I am optimistic, positive and confident in my outlook. This stems not from a false perception of the inability of our opponents but rather from the consistency of our greatest ever manager in defying the odds, shaming the nay sayers, and achieving a top four finish year after year after year.
This may be as difficult a season in which to repeat this feat as any he has encountered. It was always going to be so given the strength, wealth and number of teams vying for those hallowed finishing positions. At least two clubs with genuine ambitions for a European place will miss out, and we are far from the driving seat. There are currently five teams more consistent than us and we will have to build on the draw with City, and the hard won points against West Ham to overhaul any of them.
Come eight o’clock this evening Selhurst Park will be a seething cauldron of passionate partisan support and we will need cool, calm heads to quieten the home crowd and take the wind out of the home team. Arsène Wenger has assembled a group of players with the resolve to resist and the guile to overcome but they have no right to victory no matter how inconsistent their opposition may be.
I believe that for all the trophies, the unbeaten season, the famous teams he has built and individuals he has discovered or nurtured, Arsène’s greatest achievement has been the consistency he has managed to achieve. I know there are no medals for it, no cup to place in a glass fronted cabinet, but it is, I think, the hardest thing of all to accomplish and therefore the one for which he ought to receive most praise.
I have to get out and paint my trellis so I’ll leave you with this brief missive and wish you a safe journey if you’re lucky enough to be at the match tonight. For everyone else I’ll see you here at eight.
palace have a penalty, and its 3-0 to palace.
Pathetic performance from Arsenal, talk about getting your manager the sack.
walcott off, ox on.
Arsenal fans singing
“you’re not fit to wear the shirt”
and its hard to argue with them.
Penalty for a foul on Giroud not given but up the end a dive is a straight penalty.
Bellerin is totally shot of confidence.
Complicit referee in cheating
Palace fans taking the piss out of Wenger, our players should be ashamed of themselves
Don’t do an Alan Smith and play down the horrible bit of cheating that earned that pen.
Put’s us at a ridiculous disadvantage over the season being so clean in comparison to other teams. But the way refs treat us it probably isn’t an option presently to try join them.
For the rest, aye, another tough,tough night. Luckless to boot.
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Against West Ham we had THREE clearer fouls than the Townsend one and we got nothing
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rich I posted in the first post of this thread that I fully expected oliver to give us nothing and to give palace what he could, and he has, but that does not excuse this bag of dogshite performance from out players. they’ve been a shambles both ends of the pitch.
10 minutes to go and we have not had a shot on target.
its as bad a performance as i’ve seen in a long time, and that is saying something
all over the place in defense
currently above everton by one goal
No yellow for the tackle on Giroud in that break away.
4 minutes of stoppage time to be played.
FT: Palace 3-0 Arsenal
and to quote the old saying, we were lucky to get nil
awful, pathetic, too many of these players don’t deserve to wear an arsenal shirt.
these are the sort of performance that get managers sacked.
In all my years in watching football I have never seen anything like this
The players seemed to be robbed of hope
11 defeats in all competitions this season so far. we have conceded
4, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 5, 3, 5, 3, 3
39 goals conceded in the league, 22 of them in our 8 defeats.
what we seen tonight from the Arsenal players was like Chelsea last season, and Leicester this season, and like Arsenal prior to the sacking of both Graham and Neill before that. Shameful stuff.
Shit performance all around. Sanchez, Monreal and Xhaka the only ones trying to make something happen. Elneny was okay.
In my opinion this Welbeck experiment is not doing is any good. Giroud is a way better player and would have won us a penalty if the referee was any good.
Martinez seems a good keeper. Bellerin playing in a shell. Özil too. Very safe passing and keeps looking for Sanchez. Both Elneny and Xhaka have a good shot but hardly tried any. Made defending us so much easier.
Movement and passing very slow. Gutted by that. Really don’t know what has happened to this team. Confidence seems a big problem at the moment and the worst part is it doesn’t seem to be improving.
Alexis misplaced 20 of his 66 passes tonight, the most of all our players
Damn! Best not say anymore than that for now as venting anger is no use to anyone and will certainly not make this result any more palatable.
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Very very poor. Again, a diabolical couple of decisions costs us at a vital time, but the club will say nothing.
There are some mitigating factors, but this is fast becoming , perhaps wengers first season of complete underachievement.
I am one who is far from sure Wenger is staying, I hope he does, but should he take that course, he really needs to change things, possible things he is not comfortable changing. I just don’t think carrying on and doing nothing is an option, even if one Stan may permit. Wenger is an attack minded manager, but increasingly, his team cannot cope with organised opponents. His team look like they need some serious work on the defence, surely one avenue for change, even if it may not be to wengers taste.
But if the club are happy allowing at least one, and often many game changing decisions by refs against the team each match, not really sure what they can do.
As it appears, the media, WOB and elements of the PGMOL may well get their way on Arsenals top four status. In words Stan reportedly understands….that costs money…..maybe think about doing what Utd, Chelsea, City, and I would imagine, Barnsley would do if they got the refereeing we get.
But tonight’s performance was about more than the ref, there is something wrong,
Mandy I just don’t at all hold with the idea that as Wenger likes attack, that he does not care for a mean defense, its true he will not go ultra defensive, but all his best teams had solid defenses
97/98 – 33 goals in 38 games
01/02 – 36 goals in 38 games
03/04 – 26 goals in 38 games
arsenal set a clean sheet record on way to cl final in 06 too.
16/17 – 39 goals in 30 games
But tonight’s performance was about more than the ref, there is something wrong,
could not agree more, massive changes needed, all that remains to be seen is will it be the manager or players, or both that changes in the summer.
now this is just not on either
Louise @Lola_Lou16 22m22 minutes ago
Bellerin came over to the away fans, got booed, turned and walked away. Ox put his arm around him.
you see, i laugh when we lose and some poeple try to point at players who they think are responsible for the loss. even on here! when would people realise that in team games, you win together and lose together. previously it was because of coq (who i think is the only ball winner in the team), iwobi, giroud and ramsey. or that ozil didnt play bla bla bla. but tonight all their permutations for easy victory were in place. xhaka, elneny, ozil, sanchez welbeck.
what win you games in a team game is the right combination. it is useless blaming some players who are already easy target of the media.
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Easier to change a manager , and or backroom staff than players Ed…..just in terms of numbers and wages.
Personally, I think they need to change…..not necessecarily the manager, but possibly coaching methods and philosophies…opponents seem micro drilled, some less injury prone with it…Wenger takes the more cruyffian approach. For whatever reason, with this group of players, that approach does not seem to be working.
Ivan, if reports are correct talked about being a catalyst for change, but not sure what Wenger would make of such demands, especially if they meant not renewing contracts of those he is very loyal to.
Just hope they work it out
Bellerin…….those actions of the fans will really help us keep a talented player, widely reported to be a target of Barca.
He does seem to have lost confidence……again, obviously without having knowledge of their training methods, this team appear to need more defensive work…..as a team, to bring that confidence back.
I’ve seen us play better to be honest.
Don’t think Wenger’s attitude to defence has changed over the years. I think there’s been enormous change in the rest of the league this last decade, though.
I put much of the blame at that man Mourinho’s door. If a guy in charge of the wealthiest club can play ultra defensive ultra cynical football, and receive no meaningful criticism and plenty of praise for it, the door is wide open for all to follow.
Combine that with half of the team’s in the league existing in a mode where survival is all, with anything else a nice bonus, and it’s a recipe for nearly all teams spending massive amounts of training time and matches concentrating on defence first, counter attacking football. A number of those teams will become very good at it, and even those who aren’t so good will have their days when the plan comes off.
Then we come into it. With City joining us perhaps in a lonesome little group. We want to take the game to the opposition. We push from the outset, committing numbers forward to try and make an early breakthrough. Teams know it and surely prepare with relish and hope for it. Defend, defend, defend, work arses off, break in two’s, three’s and four’s.
And because it’s us, up the physicality and fouls. It won’t always work for them, of course, because we have good and very good players who are used to trying to break through the ranks, and because we have good defenders who are used to covering spaces and win the battle with breakaways on plenty of days.
Nevertheless, I expect they go into the games with more hope than against some of the other big teams. They have extremely clear ideas about what needs to happen to succeed. If they win the battle for the first goal, those hopes must seriously soar.
They defend and charge around with even more gusto. They know against us they can commit little fouls constantly with no consequence. Zaha alone must have been in double figures.
Think I put the figure at 10% before this season for the improvement we’d need to win league or take it to the wire. Defence or attack or both. It hasn’t happened and we’ve prob slipped about 5% instead.
There’s plenty of good players out there and I’m not really seeing any lack of effort or bad attitude. But we are clearly having a hard time of it.
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I’m supposed to be doing the review of that. Don’t hold your breath.
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Rich its odd that knowing we will face massed defenses so many times that we actually don’t have an out and out winger type who can beat his man with a dribble. We constantly get up to edge of the area, and its sideways, backways, or an attempted almost impossible pass. We have become so damn predictable we are too easily defended against when not at our very sharpest.
Leave it til the morning George
george just write – the bus was late and most of the players did not turn up. heads need to roll.
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Steve Hills @Merse10 1h1 hour ago
Alan Smith “penny for Sanchez thoughts”.
Why the fuck is all about him? Been shit for weeks. Terrible again tonight.
Feel very pessimistic after that. I am going to try to savour the remaining games of this season, back the team, and hope they get something back. None of us know what goes on, but this could be the end of an era. Wenger is no quitter, but I am sure even he has his limits….sadly, that display has not been a one off. It is one thing losing to the big boys, this season, we are losing to organised journeymen, ref assisted cloggers…..sorry, disrespectful I know….but my point, this team are seriously under achieving.
As for the manager, on the back of the last few months, I am just not sure he can take this further. Not because he lacks ability or passion. A man of his achievement and stature should only stay at this clubon merit, not on sentiment, or because the owner likes him. If he stays, he may be forced into changing things …and people…he doesn’t want to change…..not sure that works in the long term, could even border on cruelty. Wenger is a loyal man. Of course, critics say, too loyal,
If the great man does leave, I think things may be tougher than his critics imagine for a while at least.
Can only back the team and the manager, in the hope they can turn it around, but as things stand, after displays in 2017, hope is the word, not expectation, for me at least.
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just watched video about the opening of the hale end academy after its refurbishment and ivan gazidis said it was the aim of the club for a player from the academy to join the first team every two years.
9 defeats in our last 21 games
7 defeats in last 12 away games
Yeah. It’s why I’m hoping so much for Willock to make it. Incredible dribbler, can go right or left. Nelson,too
Breaking down those defences is a bloody hard task,though. It’s why it almost strikes me as unfair on those days you see the likes of the Palace attackers getting to enjoy themselves with a bit of time and space while our players get nothing of the sort.
You could take any one of our 5 or 6 attacking players stick them in their side and they would likely look good and play well in the sort of space Palace attackers operated in.
I’ve grown to loathe the asymmetry of it : us having to take on the massed ranks so often while the opposition attackers tend to have the space available for them our own attackers crave and thrive upon.
But it’s just a fact of life, and stops short of being unfair (as long as you keep the media and refs out of it). We know precisely what the challenge is and have to find answers for it.
Roughly speaking, that 10% improvement in attack, meaning becoming significantly better at puncturing deep defences (because our attack is undoubtedly good enough to thrive once we have ‘won’ the right to space), or a big improvement in defence.
I used to believe a key purchase or two- specifically another quick centre back and a high quality defensive midfielder- could improve the defence about that much; now I doubt that very much. It looks to me now like a massive change in approach is required. Such a change might be hard to deliver, but the current formula isn’t right.
‘I can understand the disappointment’
Arsène Wenger was asked about the fans’ reaction to our 3-0 defeat against Crystal Palace when he faced the press at Selhurst Park on Monday night.
Read on for more quotes from the press conference.
on the fans’ reaction…
I want the fans to support the team. I think they are extremely disappointed and I can understand that because we all are. It is understandable that they are disappointed. We played with a desire to win the game tonight, with a very offensive team because we knew we had to score goals. We knew what we would face. Their keeper took their free-kicks on the halfway line, so it was important for us to win the ball in the air, win the second balls, get the ball down and then play our game. From the start onwards, in the decisive moments of the game, they were sharper.
on our top-four chances…
It’s [going to be] very difficult.
on whether this will have an impact on his future…
Honestly, I am disappointed tonight. After such a long time, to see that we’ve lost a game the way we’ve lost it is of course very disappointing. I think it would be inconvenient to speak about me tonight, it’s more painful to lose the game like the way we lost this one.
on how we rebuild confidence…
It’s part of our job to rebuild confidence. We have a week to do it, a week to prepare and we go to Middlesbrough for another difficult game. It’s our job and we’ll try to do it.
on the defeat…
We faced a team who played very deep, went for a game that was very direct, and we lost many direct duels and many second balls because they were sharper than us and more decisive. Overall, we created many dangerous situations but we couldn’t score. In the first half, we had problems getting in the game after 10 or 15 minutes. We came back into the game and had some dangerous situations that we couldn’t score from. In the second half, they came out strong, scored the second goal and from then on you could see it was more difficult. Even if we created more dangerous situations, we were always vulnerable on the counter-attacks because we threw everything forward. That’s a typical situation involving a team who tries to go forward and a team who plays on the counter-attack.
on whether the players didn’t give 100 per cent…
I wouldn’t say that, no.
on what the team lacked…
Maybe it was the fact that we have lost a few away games. It’s really strange because for a long time we were unbeaten away from home, but since then we have been unable to win away from home. You could feel that it had an impact on us after the second goal tonight.
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/20170410/-i-can-understand-the-disappointment-#6YSbG76u6155KmUT.99
well rich on our defending, we had lots of bodies back, on all the goal(including penalty incident), the problem once again is that no one was marking anyone, just taking up space, we see it over and over, hiding in numbers, not showing the moral courage to go out and actually do their job, All optimistic defending, it will be alright, someone else will make the block, make the tackle, clear the ball, make the challenge etc etc.
from next Sunday Arsenal have 8 league games and an FA Cup semi final to play in a five week period.
by time we play next monday we could be 10pts off top 4 and in 7th place.
Bergkamp & Bergkamp @Orangeiceman10
Walcott “We knew from the first whistle they wanted it more”
Just think about that statement
Eddy. Just stop, please. Stop posting stuff from Twitter, I’m begging you. I can read all of the apocalyptic predictions there if I wish to, which I don’t. Please don’t bring them here, too.
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Rich , u fortunately, we have something missing to help our attack and have had since the autumn, but that is what it is.
Also agree with your frustrations, out team are so open, suicidly so at times, yet lesser players, but more skilled in counter attack are doing us time and time again.
Agree, the formula is not right. Think it is fairly easy to put right, but I suspect may conflict with our managers views in the game. The successful teams in this league at the moment are physically robust, counter attacking experts, I would go along with defensive, though they do score goals. We are one of the few up there who have full backs bomb forward, but don’t have three at the back protecting them
I think we have three options
1/ do nothing, carry on as normal…..after recent weeks, not really an option, would lead to things getting nasty, undermined confidence….I just cannot see anything positive in this route, a team of this stature cannot keep losing to these type of teams…ok I know chelsea lost to them, but….
2/ invest heavily in the summer, hopefully, Cazorla comes back, and evolve to neutralise some of our persistent faults, but players no longer come easily. Where possible, develop from within. I would imagine this would be somewhere near our managers choice given all options
3/ a catalyst for change ,,whoever he may be …rips up systems, tactics, philosophies and structures, bring back strong characters and legends …..to greater or lesser degrees…to improve performance….not sure I can see the manager going with that, even if others may desire it, and on these performances, they may have a point. But this may be the route of compromise to previous club beliefs.
4/ ……don’t even want to go there
Add to that, I am convinced these players are extremely unsettled, like Utd players a few years back. If Wenger really is staying,I just wish they would announce it and help settle things. The fact they haven’t means surely that is far from a foregone conclusion.
I would also add, some of the recently successful teams are cheats, and allowed to invariably get away with it, as long as it falls under the blanket of” the English game”
We may have a problem competing on this level
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well mandy something is certainly up with the wenger contract thing, he for weeks said decision would be announced in march or april, he recently said he had made his decision, now he says its up to the club to announce said decision, and the very latest is him saying it could be the summer before club announce the decision.
Now the delay could be as simple as wanting other good news to go with it so as to appease the unsettled/unhappy fans. An FA Cup win and the club can easily justify a new contract, even to the most idiotic of the malcontents. Maybe the club want to be able to announce new contracts for several of our players, including ozil, alexis and ox. The club clearly want to appoint a Director of Football, and we know a new Academy head has to be appointed this summer too. Rumors of additions to the board and of course to the coaching staff are about too. So player contracts to sort out, new DoF, new Head of Academy, that is a lot of ducks to get in a row so as to be able to announce them all at the one time, and that is not to forget a run of good results.
Or maybe he is going and the club want to be able to announce the new king.
last night for the second round of games in a row Xhaka was the leagues top passer
Ed, I struggle to understand it myself. We worked ourselves into good wide positions on a number of occasions, but it felt like their defence were always set and big favourites to win the ball. Whereas when they were in on us, it felt like we were stretched and open.
I always question if my nerves and pessimism are deceiving me on this- are we that open? Is their defence that well set? Or does it just feel like that?
The numbers suggest that this year at least it is not me and we really are that vulnerable.
Opening goal for first three league defeats : 45,44,47
Opening goal for next five league defeats : 17,12,9,10,13
lge cup Saints 13
Psg (d)1; (d)18
Bournemouth (d) 16
City (d) 5
It seems telling that even at this stage the plan was for us to play offensively because of the need to score goals, i.e we are not looking at it from the other direction in terms of looking for extra security at the back and going from there.
My worry is that it may be very hard to change our ways and be significantly tighter in defence and that the manager knows this and therefore chooses to stick with an approach the players are used to. It may even be that this approach does represent our best chance.