140 Comments

Arsenal Versus Spurs: Credit Where It’s Due

Angry chicken

I understand that in the knockabout pantomime jeering between rival football supporters it is necessary to deride the success of one’s adversary and inflate the prowess of one’s own chosen team. I get it. It’s the reason fans of Mansfield and Crewe can, without any discernible trace of irony, both sing that they are watching ‘by far the greatest team the world has ever seen’. It is part of the charm of the game.

Unfortunately when this same instinct is filtered through the prism of social media there is a more desperate edge to the banter. The desire to somehow be proven right is almost overwhelming and, sadly, it leads to us being made to look chumps at times.

I have always championed consistency above all else in football, it’s one of the reasons I rate Arsène Wenger so highly as a manager and the principal reason I am cautious of elevating every other coach who’s club enjoys a rare visit to the top four.

Very often a league campaign will throw up an unlikely contender. A side from the middle or lower orders will perform way above themselves. I recall Villa, Newcastle, Everton and Liverpool all having stand out seasons like this and of course we all know what happened with Leicester.

The salient factor is that they almost never repeat the feat. Getting there is incredibly tough, staying there almost impossible. Even super wealthy clubs with a short or long history of success find themselves struggling on occasions and for any side to break into the elite and stay there takes some doing.

It looks likely that Tottenham will finish above Arsenal this season. I hope it won’t happen today because we need to maintain our recent run of results to build confidence in the lead up to the cup final and keep the pressure on those above us. But realistically it looks like it’ll happen at some point between now and May 21st.

If it does it will mean that Pochettino has done the hardest job. He has followed a season where his side challenged for the title and pushed Arsenal to the wire with another where once again Spurs has been the only consistent challengers to the presumptive champions and may well go one better than its closest rival.

It is a real achievement and by rubbishing it we only make ourselves look foolish. One reason it’s a real achievement is because finishing above Arsène Wenger is no easy matter. He has proven to be one of the very best managers the country has ever seen and any side finishing higher that his either wins silverware or gets into the Champion’s League. Of course journalists and others hostile to our club will exaggerate the significance of Spurs’ success, but guess what; that need not upset you because no one forces you to listen to them or read what they write.

The derby is a massive game for both clubs given their ambitions in the league. Geographical and historical rivalry make it a huge occasion for local fans, for other supporters around the world it lacks that particular, visceral intensity. It matters because it’s another top club and they are above us in the league. It’s a tough away fixture at a time when we’d rather be pouring goals into the opposition net against someone less able to wound us.

I had a good feeling about Man City which was eventually borne out, similarly Leicester, no matter how late we left it, always seemed winnable. Today I just can’t read the tea leaves. We know that Spurs have suffered under pressure recently but their experiences last season will stand them in good stead this time around. That’s where consistency comes in, it feeds experience and know-how into the mix.

However, if we praise Pochettino for his two seasons dining at the top table, and we should, then how much more highly must we value our own manager who has achieved the same or similar again and again and has done so not for two years but for two decades?

I haven’t given up on the Champion’s League place yet and I’ll bet the players haven’t either. Today is a chance to close the gap on at least one of the teams standing in our way. If it also staves off the spectre of a reverse St Tott’s then that’s no bad thing either. The atmosphere will be hostile to say the least, the opposition as excited at their chances as a monk sitting on a washing machine. It’s up to us to spoil the party.

We need to turn that expectation to nervousness, convert excitement to impatience, get under their skin and irritate them. Oh, and while we’re at it scoring more goals than them might not be a bad idea.

If you’re going to the game please stay safe. I’ve managed to pull a 10 till 5 shift today so have to decide between watching the second half live or waiting and seeing the whole thing tomorrow. It’s a tough choice, although my chances of avoiding the result are minimal as I’ll be at another football match and, well, you know how people around you like to discuss the other games taking place.

Speaking of work, I’d better get going; enjoy the game and if I don’t catch you later I’ll see you next Sunday for Man United.

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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140 comments on “Arsenal Versus Spurs: Credit Where It’s Due

  1. Yup Eddie. Without any hesitation, our mgt has had little bearing on recent results. The manager was winning games, leading the tables even, with Santi. Without Santi, he has tried every possible combination and even changed the formation but we are simply unable to control games and create chances especially against very good teams. That is because we haven’t found a technical leader to repalce Santi (see When We Were Boring). Our supposedly best player is wasteful in possession and very individualistic. We are the 3rd best possession team in the EPL behind City and Liverpool and even when we try counter-attacking football we are hit and miss. Unlike WWWB I am not one for wholesale changes but as much as 3 players have no future in this club and we must go in the market and find a central midfielder who has the skillset and mentality to help us control and dominate pressing teams who gve us the most trouble.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ed, those penalty figures are pretty shocking, looks like out of that lot, only is and Hull have negative penalty balances. Spurs have. Plus seven pen balance and we have minus three. So, either we foul more,than others in the area….really???, we are not coached as well as some in the arts of penalties, I can quite believe that one, or we get a rough time from the refs….again, very believable.
    Completely agree WWWB, think Per is our spiritual leader, as was Arteta before him, but like so many of our club captains, Per never plays anymore.
    As for coaches/coaching, the one thing that irks me is the lack of any apparent will to sort out the,defence. Poor defending has really cost us this season, again. Not as if our defenders are poor, but we seem to lack organisation as a team. Again, I would point out others, including those on lesser resources seem to be better drilled than our boys. Maybe free form football works with the tech lead…..but again, I know the point has been made, butsurely, we have had time to adjust to his absence? I sense there has been a reluctance to adjust too much, until very recently when things have taken a turn for,the worst.
    The way this season has gone, I think doing nothing and carrying on as you were is not really an option this summer, but again, how such things would sit with the manager are open to speculation

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  3. ‘The points do not come from heaven’

    For the first time in 22 years, we will finish below Tottenham in the league.

    Sadly it’s a fact and Arsène Wenger did not try to play it down when he faced the media after Sunday’s derby.

    The boss has overseen years of supremacy in north London but he accepts that we’ve been beaten by the better team:

    on being 17 points behind Tottenham and whether that’s a fair reflection…
    Look, the points are the points. They do not come from heaven, you earn them on the pitch. That’s it.

    on whether he believes there is a large gap between the two teams…
    Look, whether I believe or not, the gap is there. That is often in the final part of the season, that can go one way or the other without really reflecting the difference between the teams. But I know it’s a good subject for the media.

    on whether he still thinks we can make the top four…
    It will be very difficult now, but we have to fight. We have a cup final, we have still a chance to get into the top four and we have to recover from today and prepare for our next games.

    Soft defending… and a soft penalty

    We looked in decent shape as the 55th minute arrived at White Hart Lane on Sunday.

    Tottenham had put us under pressure, but the extra security of a back three had kept them at arm’s length. With both Manchester clubs drawing earlier on Sunday, we looked capable of matching our top-four rivals.

    Then Dele Alli pounced on a loose ball to break the deadlock, and Harry Kane scored from the penalty spot within three minutes. Game over.

    Here’s what Arsène Wenger said about the goals that killed off our chances of a win on our last visit to the Lane:

    on the game…
    I think it was a tight game until they scored the first goal and then we conceded straightaway a soft penalty. The 2-0 was a shock and gave Spurs big confidence and I think it took us time to recover from that. In the end, we created chances but were a bit lucky to keep it at 2-0. Then the last 15 minutes we dominated the game but without being capable to create clear-cut chances or take any chance we created. Overall I think you come to the conclusion than Spurs deserved to win the game – well done to them.

    on whether he learnt anything about his players today…
    Look, I felt that there was plenty of room in the first half especially to score goals, that we didn’t use well because we played with a bit of a restricted attitude. I felt that we lacked a little bit of freedom to play and desire to hurt them more than we did. I think the chances we created in the first half were clear-cut chances. We did not take them well. Not with enough conviction and not with enough determination.

    on whether Ox should have cleared the ball for Alli’s goal…
    Honestly, I haven’t seen it again. I have to watch it from the bench, it was not very clear. We just looked that we were not outnumbered, but we had six against two or three. It was soft defending.

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20170430/soft-defending-and-a-soft-penalty#s75WE60T8leflqU5.99

    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/20170430/-the-points-do-not-come-from-heaven-#rghAVSZSfVRkBsrC.99

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  4. afcstuff‏ @afcstuff

    Mesut Özil vs. Spurs:

    Most Arsenal passes completed (42)
    Most final-third passes (22)
    Joint most Arsenal chances created (2)

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  5. Soft defending…..when will they choose to do something about this infuriating quality?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Shard: Your metaphor with Steve Kerr and those role players proves my point. Two years without Michael Jordan, when he was playing baseball, the same cast could never come out of the conference finals. Jordan didn’t go the finals without Pippen despite huge scoring numbers. Reminds me of a certain Chilean.

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  7. Ozil cannot do it on his own
    Changing 6 players is a massive gamble, but we are fast approaching that point.
    Like it or not

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  8. My point is one needs to identify the key ingredient to your team or you will be going around in circles (spending huge gobs of money, seeking solutions when they are staring you in the face. Basketball is a different sport but without Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen there would be no Chicago Bulls dynasty. Without Santi playing behind Ozil, Arsenal is and will flounder.

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  9. an awful stat from the game today

    Giroud completed only 7 passes in the second half, and 3 of them where from kickoffs

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  10. I’m telling you now, Sanchez is the problem.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Doing badly isn’t always a bad thing, provided the club, coaches and players learn , make any needed changes and strive to make things better. I just hope they are resolved to do just that, and would be pretty disappointed if any in their ranks are not. We are a big club with decent resources, there is no reason for a repeat of some of these abject performances once the manager situation is sorted, and the squad is strengthened, and someone teaches them to defend Ok, that sounds as naive as some of our defending, but that’s about as positive as I can be at the moment.

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  12. Maybe PG, but if so , why doesn’t Wenger just drop him?

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  13. Wel that sucked.
    totts were clarly the better team.

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  14. Mandy Dodd
    I’ve made that point and people think I want churning for churning sake. We have waited on players to return from injury and recapture something, form or fitness for seasons but they never do.
    For instance Gibbs and Welbeck, I got love for both these guys, but both are austerity players, we have been waiting for 10 years for Gibbo to develop.
    We have a few too many which Arsenal have persevered with, Theo has had his best season ever for us but he has to go too.
    We cannot have Alexis and Theo playing wide at the sametime.
    Hard choices have to be made, there is hardly a player I don’t like as a bloke(looking from the outside) but Arsenal are no longer in times of austerity.

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  15. WWWB, hard to argue, but think that could be too radical for the manager of he stays.
    Just watching it again on MOTD….it seems some managers, like Poch are making players better, yes, some of ours seem to be stalling.
    I wonder of some of ours might do better with different coaching….a trait of wengers teams is that they aim for the high level free spirit stuff, but some of the players seem to lose confidence quickly, and sometimes, it seems permanently.
    But overall, heartbreaking to lose like that, and give the many critics so much ammunition. Being outplayed is one thing, but they were shambolic at times today.

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  16. Mandy:
    MOTD arguing that players are developing at Spurs vs Arsenal? Dishonest journalism. How easily they forget the player churn at the Totts over the years. The League is awash with ex-Spurs yutes who didn’t cut it at the top level. Check the Hull 1st XI for example.

    The biggest disappointment at Arsenal recently is the British core whom Wenger has given a lot of chances to grow and develop. How many of them can truly say they have a 1st team spot of their own when everybody is fit? Of the 3 players who imo the club will have to sell next summer some are British.

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  17. there are big decisions to be made on many Arsenal players this summer. The formation that will be used next season will have a major bearing on the decisions on some of them, for others not so much.

    Goalkeepers
    we have Cech, Ospina, Martinez and the on loan Szczesny. Reports suggest that Ospina wants much more playing time, and Cech joined us to get playing time, Martinez needs playing time for the experience, and Szczesny is on loan to get playing time.
    So big decisions have to be made on 3 if not all 4. Who will be first choice, who will be sold, who will be loaned out.

    Defense
    will it be 3, 4, or 5 at the back. That decision could have a major bearing on who stays and who goes, although it is likely that Jenkinson, Debuchy and Mertesacker will all be let go. If reports about that Schalke lb/wingback joining are correct, then one or both of Monreal and Gibbs will likely leave. Bramhall will need game time, be in here or on loan. Koscielny, Mustafi, Gabriel, Holding, Chambers leave us looking well stocked at CB, Holding needs more game time, will he get it here, or is a loan needed, even short term. A decision has to be made on Chambers, snog, marry, avoid. He has impressed on loan with boro, but we are being linked with several CB’s – Van Dijk, Gibson, Maguire, Kean, Bender.
    Found it odd that Bellerin was left out of the starting 11 today, is this a sign that we may be willing to let him leave, with Ox going to be used in the 3/5 formation, but if its a 4 can anyone see ox at rb ahead of hector, no me neither. Anyway Wenger says Ox future is CM, so Wingback is only temp for him.

    Midfield
    Xhaka, Coquelin, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Elneny, Maitland-Niles. Questions, questions, questions and more questions, is what our midfield create.
    For me the one with the least questions hanging over is Xhaka, for me he has had a good first season, and has settled in well, with the only question being when will refs actually treat him fairly and not on a false reputation.
    Maitland-Niles needs game time, will he get it here, or is it another loan for him, likely is.
    Elneny, the steady eddy, but many question as to what he actually brings to the team, or will he ever be good enough to be first choice.
    Coquelin has suffered this season, no one has suffered without santi as much as he has, he has not formed a good partnership with any of our other midfielders, the question is, could that be cos he just is not good enough and Santi was good enough to carry him.
    Now the 3 with the biggest questions. Wilshere, Ramsey and Cazorla, yes Cazorla. So lets start with Cazorla.
    23 league games in two seasons, he will be 33 by end of the year, as good as he is, can we really plan to build our midfield around him, or even with him in it. Squad man, impact sub, is that what we should be looking at for him.
    Wilshere. Where or what do we do with Jack. He can’t stay fit, he was not content to be a squad man and fight for his place this season, so why will he next season, and he did not set the world alight at afcb. 27 games, No goals, one assist, and another broken leg. If he was not already our player would anyone want him signed. He is 25 and is a long way from fulfilling the potential he showed as a 19 year old when he had his breakthrough season (10/11).
    Ramsey, oh what has happened our Rambo of 13/14, the player who ran the show, scored and assisted at will, played with no doubt. We now too often see the post broken leg Ramsey, who struggled to put it all together. He had a fine Euros last summer, but this season for us has been wrecked by injury, playing in only half our games, and not a league goal to be had. There has been some signs that he and Xhaka might form the sort of partnership he had with Arteta in 13/14, but it still has much to prove.

    attacking players
    Ox, theo, Iwobi, alexis, welbeck, lucas, Ozil, Giourd
    again the formation might have major influence on the futures of some. if we are to use wingbacks, is that the end of theo, he has barely featured since we went with it, despite his 19 goals so far this season. Iwobi has disappeared since it has been used too. The formation leaves less spots for the wide men.
    Ox has been used at wingback, but arsene has said cm is where he is headed, again that only adds to the questions on ox and our other cm’s
    lucas has had a good impact in his first season here, although with a settling in period, and his many injuries many questions remain on just how big a part he can play here.
    Welbeck has had another injury wrecked season, and we still don’t know his best position or how good he can be. He has yet to show he has that lethal streak that top strikers need.
    Giourd has actually had a good season, but oddly enough its been as an impact sub, and he has not been as good when starting, but he has voiced his concerns about lack of game time, and made it clear he is not happy with it. there are reports that a couple of French clubs are looking to bring him home, if he is not to be first choice here then it may appeal to him
    Now the two with big big questions over them. Ozil and Alexis.
    First big question is, will either or both sign a new contract. If they don’t will we risk keeping them and seeing them leave for free in a year. Arsenal are implying that both are looking for over the top wages, can we afford to give in to them and change our wage structure, can we afford to not give into them.
    Ozil has added more goals to his game, and his passing stats are as high as ever, but he has less assists this season, but is that his delivery, or others finishing, or teams struggles.
    Alexis has had a great season for goals and assists, although both have dried up alot in the second half of the season. His ball retention, or lack of, has been questioned more since his goal impact has lessened. Some see his passing and ball retention problems as a major reason why we are not seeing more Wengerball, Arsene doesn’t seem to agree, as Alexis plays almost every game for us (31 of 33), and almost every minute of every game he plays
    Another question on Alexis is, what is his best position, he seemed to thrive as our central striker, early in the season, but he wandered further and further from the middle the more the season went on, and has now been shifted back to wide left, and wenger actually said that Alexis does not want to be CF as he does not get to touch the ball as much as he wants. The question is, should his feelings come into it, or should it only come down to what is best for the team.

    I think after the season we are having that there will be a bit of a churn of players, there are many of the squad players who are almost sure to leave, and some first choice have question marks over them too.

    I think that Ospina, Debuchy, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Gibbs (or Monreal), and Wilshere, and probably Giroud will all likely leave Arsenal this summer, maybe a few more too. i’m not at all sure if Alexis, Ozil, Ramsey and Ox will all be here next season too.

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  18. Maybe Shotta…..and perhaps, of he is to survive, and thrive, Wenger might have to become less charitable on his dishing out of chances.
    None of those Brits are bad players, quite the contrary, but they seem extremely injury prone, and have had stuttered development. Many of our youngsters seem to inherit the injury curse

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  19. “Alexis Sanchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain & Kieran Gibbs all lost possession 20 times ” But yeah, let’s blame Ozil Ramsey and Giroud.

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  20. Ed, as for Bellerin, only a guess, but I think his injury is more of an issue than is realised, Wenger himself has said he is playing through the pain barrier, and then the slightly open ended comment about him resting this summer rather than playing for Spain u21. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him used sparingly for the rest of the season, and surgery/treatment this summer.
    agree on Xhaka, seriously good player.
    But just get the impression that if Wenger does stay, he is going to have to turn things around very quickly, or the fans will turn making it next to impossible for the players. He is known for his loyalty, but may have to discover hidden depths of serious ruthlessness to turn things around

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  21. I think if Wenger stays the only way he turns some of the fans is to bring in four or five signings with a couple of them really big names, say Mabappe and Van Dijk. Ozil and Aelxis would also have to sign new deals, ox too. Anything other than a spending spree will only see the campaign v wenger grow.

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  22. It seems Wanyama was MOTM…..thought Cech in with a shout.
    All the media saying he is a much better buy than Xhaka.
    But there is a difference in those two.
    Wanyama only playing today due to the grace of the PGMOL after his antics at Palace.
    Xhaka has never been granted any grace from the PGMOL

    Liked by 1 person

  23. PSG lost to Nice and are now 3pts behind monaco, psg have 3 games left, monaco have 4. If psg do not win the league then very likely that they will change the manager, will they go for wenger, would he go there, he is big friends with their owners.

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  24. Roma lost today, so Juve are 9pts ahead with 4 games to go.

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  25. Ed, not sure if I can see us getting, or paying for players like that if we drop out of the top 4. We will just be outbid for starters.
    A few ITKs saying we have a rather good left back in the bag, but we shall see.
    IF Wenger stays, and wants to play Wengerball, The most important purchase will be a Cazorla replacement/apprentice, no matter what he costs….within reason of course.

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  26. cech never going to get man of the match as we lost.
    another difference mandy is that wanyama is an out and out dm, xhaka is a player maker, not a destroyer.

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  27. Not sure how Wenger would like PSG, may be friends, but those owners are pretty ruthless, not sure how they would take losing games due to three players unmarked on set pieces.
    And, more importantly, it would shatter my belief that Wenger really was into FFP and against financial doping, and not just taking the rap for an owner who refused to put money into the club.
    But, as ever, we shall see

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  28. Yes, Xhaka is a pretty decent deep lying playmaker come box to box player but whatever he is, Wanyama gets a much better deal from the PGMOL .
    Think that is now 76 league games Spurs have gone without a red, yet Xhaka got two including the softest red in his first season.
    Cech was excellent today,especially as the defence abandoned him on many occasions it could have been worse. After Chelsea, he must think he is in some sort of bad parallel universe….in defensive terms…..

    Liked by 1 person

  29. mandy to get top 4 this season we are going to have to likely win all 5 remaining games,

    man utd – home

    southampton – away

    stoke – away

    sunderland – home

    everton – home

    even if we do get top 4, we will have to persuade any big name players that Arsenal is the best place for him, over the other big clubs. can we do it. I don’t know. If we can’t then we have to go the route wenger talked about earlier this week, that is get the quality players before other clubs realize how good they are, be that in the case of the likes of mbappe, when they are still in the youths, or like kante, before they make an impact in a big league.

    along with reports about that schalke left back, we are once again being linked with bringing back former youth player Oğuzhan Özyakup who has one year left on his contract in turkey. And reports in Belgium link us to central defender bjorn engels who we tried for last summer.
    then there is also the ozil/alexis way, snap up the guy displaced at a big club by a major new signing.

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  30. thought cech made some good saves today, but also that his kicking was awful. he is far from the great he was when in his prime, but age waits for no man. For me we really have to bring back Szczesny as first choice next season. Him in goal, and that bosman left back and there we have two new first 11 players without a transfer outlay, leaving the funds for the others needed.
    We can make many changes to the current squad without much outlay, is it time to give Holding more game time, what of chambers, has his year with boro brought him on enough so that he is a good choice for us, if so, another change to the squad at no outlay.
    sell ospina and mertesacker, even for small fees and others like debuchy and jenkinson and of course campbell, and it adds to the transfer pot.

    as has been said, the question is, will Wenger’s loyalty to the players allow him to be ruthless with enough of them to upgrade enough of the squad. i sometimes wonder does Wenger place too much value on what he sees from the players in training, and not enough on what they do or don’t do in games. for me he has always had a hierarchy of selection, and has found it very difficult to drop under performing first choice players, and has also been too quick to drop a squad man that has been performing well, once the first choice player is fit again. i know its a very difficult balancing act, as by the very nature of things, the better player has a higher level of attainment than the lesser light.

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  31. afcstuff‏ @afcstuff 6h6 hours ago

    Arsenal most PL goals conceded in a season under Wenger:

    2011/12: 49
    2010/11: 43
    Current season: 42 (5 games left)
    2013/14: 41

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  32. today was the first time in over two years that gibbs played back to back league games.

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  33. Been a long time since I have come online to look at Arsenal and PA. I have seen the comments and the results over the last months. No idea what the opinion or consensus is but in my opinion, it seems the psychological warfare in the players coupled with referee tilting on pitch has damaged team spirit, cohesion and chemistry to the point where Arsenal struggle and other sides are propped up as usual. Same tactic I have seen in the various theatres besides football. They will not stop until Wenger is gone. And probably also until Arsenal starts playing ball like everyone else. Sad days but what can you do. Football descended long ago to WWE levels of realism.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Shotta

    Absolutely agree that a player like that is a necessary condition to building a winning team. But that’s exactly why we need the scouting and coaching to add the right components.

    Building around Santi unfortunately is no longer an option. Our last two seasons were built around his genius. But injuries left us short and mean he can no longer be the Jordan. Maybe the Kerr of this team. An occasional match winner.

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  35. ed

    Wenger is incredibly loyal, but once he thinks you’ve let him(or probably the team) down, he isn’t shy of being ruthless. He’s also not scared of taking tough decisions that might annoy some of his players. He does have a hierarchy of guys he trusts and plays. But which manager doesn’t? Only the ones that aren’t winning and are desperate to stumble upon a solution. Chelsea have ridden a few players to the title 2 years ago and are close to doing it now. Leicester did it last season. Even the elite clubs do this.

    That isn’t the issue. The issue is the quality (or confidence) of the guys he has put his faith in. He knew he was under pressure from before the first FA Cup win. Arsenal had more money, and he knew he was only here for a short time. And yet he chose to put his faith in many of those that had been there rather than replace them. He saw something in them that they probably aren’t going to be now. A tragedy for them, but hopefully not a tragedy for Wenger or Arsenal.

    No CL will make it tougher (both Manu and City picked up a point because they got a penalty for a dive, but no one will mention this in the media as affecting the top 4 race) But I think it’s got to be done.

    Or you get in a new manager and hope he sparks something in this lot. But even if that happens, if we really want to win, we will need to have a better first XI.

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  36. One thing I would like Arsenal’s manager, whoever he may be, next season, is to combine big signings with fleshing out the squad with some of our own players, both who are on loan or in the academy. Give chances to the likes of Toral, Zelalem, Jeff, Willock (if he stays), Maitland Niles, Bielik, and Akpom. They cost you nothing extra. Many of them don’t even need to be registered. Instead of buying a mid level player for the squad like Elneny (not saying he is bad or that was a bad move then) play these guys. Fit them in between the stars/starters regularly, like Barcelona or Real Madrid do.

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  37. Sav, spot on.

    Sad day yesterday given our performance and yet more proof of how endemic pen-hunting and the like is in the league now.

    We had Owen blathering on about Rashford doing it because attackers can get seriously injured at those moments, and Kane insisting it was a foul because he was touched. Football could use this moment to say, ‘hang on, why in both cases did they flick out their legs to create contact?’

    There’s no comeback to it: you could put either the players or their managers right on the spot if you asked them that in an interview.

    Or a pundit could simply make the point properly on any show- and if just a few of them did it, football would have to face up to it honestly: is this our game now? Are we happy that if a defender can’t get himself in the ‘right’ position an attacker is entitled to create his own contact or fling himself over and fling out his leg if he is touched at all?

    Not going to happen

    ‘The Swansea keeper pulled out of the challenge but Rashford, expecting heavy contact, collapsed his own legs.’

    That’s Graham Poll talking. An ex-ref, excusing the dive and ignoring the crucial part of it- that he flicked out his leg, which can’t possibly be about protecting himself, and which was the thing that earned the pen.

    If ex-refs are deliberately distorting the truth, having watched as many replays as they like…there’s no hope at present for honesty making a comeback.

    We’d need to be frighteningly good to prevail over what must be at least a 10% handicap over the course of the season.

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  38. Shard

    Think the main obstacles to playing youngsters are huge pressure for results, big squads with many experienced players, short-termism and managerial insecurity.

    We have a manager who has been fantastic for giving young players a chance but things have surely shifted in recent years, to the point where choosing a youngster means ignoring one or two experienced internationals.

    Meanwhile, the pressure for results ,which has no doubt always been high, has surely increased steadily for a number of seasons now.

    We’ve still given Bellerin, Iwobi and now Holding their chances, which is better than most and a good record even, but I think it would have been really hard to give more young players a go in this period.

    Going forward, it would probably be easier for a new manager to try out some of the youngsters than it would for Wenger, though that depends entirely on whether fans and more importantly board gave any new man a grace period in which to experiment.

    All new managers get that, though to some fans and some chairmen it lasts no more than a handful of games.

    If it’s Europa next year, one compensation is that we could see a lot of gametime given to young players. I’d love to see that.

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  39. From 2017, it seems there is a lot of change needed. Work ethic at times,confidence, defending, maybe scouting, players, being a bit more streetwise and recognising the role of the refs. It seems the current coaching regime is not having the desired effect for whatever reason, perhaps the Santi effect comes into play, perhaps instability over the manager but we have to at least consider the possibility that Wenger is not the man to bring out the best in this bunch. Do they work hard enough on weaknesses in training, are they drilled and organised to the extent of opponents….are they as fit and robust as others…..not saying they aren’t, but just putting it out there.
    Take the point that Wenger can be ruthless…..but also get the impression he is not as quick to change as some, is he the man for big changes?
    I hope solutions can be found that involve the manager staying on to lead an orderly transition to a successor, possibly from within, but the levels of change, changing of playing staff, recruitment, perhaps delegation, a shift in tactics to make the team more robust and confident,maybe accepting change other staff he has been reluctant to accept before make me doubt Wenger is the man for what may be really needed , unless he can show a ruthless streak not seen in him for sometime if ever. As for reports of doubt over the futures of some coaches and scouts…..we don’t know enough about what goes on behind the scenes, of his staff really are at the cutting edge, able to creatively challenge the manager in a healthy environment, fine, if not…. These are some of the main reasons I am far from sure he will actually stay, FA Cup or not.
    If nothing changes, and things don’t pick up very quickly, the atmosphere will get worse, it will be impossible for the players, and despite the risk of a perception in letting the malcontents win, such an environment will not be good for anyone associated with the club. If things are to improve, a lot will need doing in the summer, and the club will need to show a bit of leadership, that appears at least to be lacking at the moment.

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  40. New post up

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