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.

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

  1. less than ten minutes left and we are going down without a fight.

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  2. ten minutes – come on – one on the board

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  3. TheoooooooNooooooo

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  4. One thing we lacked today……the final ball.

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  5. 4 minutes of stoppage time to be played and we are meekly taking defeat.

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  6. Right – that’s it – I’m off the fence

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  7. I hate Jose more than Tottingham

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  8. With regard to what?

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  9. Painful to admit, Spurs were better in all departments…at least now we taste the bitter pill the spuds have been swallowing these past 20 years.

    However, it needn’t herald a shift in North London…in fact I’m confident it hasn’t.

    We’ll regroup and come back stronger….

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  10. Outstandingly poor, and not for the first time recently.
    We have made the medias day….and made it very easy for the ref to do what refs generally do in these games.
    How can so many brilliant players be so much less than the sum of their parts in so many games in 2017. When we were behind, we used to throw the kitchen sink at the opposition, but so many times recently, they just seem to give up.
    It is clear there are some coaches Wenger finds very hard to beat, sadly. Poch seems to becoming one of them.

    We still have a cup to play for thankfully.
    But the bigger picture, things clearly need shaking up a bit. If we get a new manager, that is change in itself. If Mr Wenger does stay, I hope he is up to reviewing a few things and making a few changes that he has been reluctant to bring about in the past. ….as this has generally been a season of underachievement, and some truly baffling performances.

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  11. FT: Spurs 2-0 Arsenal

    spurs better team in first half, missed two open goals, Arsenal improved somewhat for last 15 minutes of the half, but lacked final ball, and never created a clear cut chance.

    second half started even enough, but once the defense let eriksen stroll by them to get off his shot that alli fired home the rebound from, we had another one of those big wobbles, kane did dive for the penalty 75 seconds after the opener, but he had been given far too much room to start with, and gabriel gave kane the opportunity to cheat. Once it went 2-0 we were never in it, created little of note, and in many ways went through the motions. I can’t remember the last time our players seemed to accept a defeat in a nld league game in such a meek manner.
    Alexis had another one of those days where half his passes went to the opposition, Ox struggled at wing back, and our midfield found the pace of spurs hard to deal with. Nothing stuck with Giroud either, so having said that it was always going to be difficult for the defense to hold out, but they really made it too easy for spurs.

    that is our 9th league defeat in 33 games, which implies that a major assessment of our playing staff needs to be carried out this summer, and major changes made.

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  12. I just can’t understand why we hardly ever shoot from the edge of the box. We have Xhaka in that position often who has a fantastic shot. At least knowing that we do will make teams come out more. The allow us to play along the edge knowing we will never shoot.

    This season has been awful. Something needs to be done. The team is not gelling properly.

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  13. Oh well….
    We are officially less than the Spuds.
    Thought we’d snatch the ‘lil upswing in fortune
    But alas…we didn’t.
    6th or 7th..no Europa might just be the kick up the backside we need.

    …oh well.

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  14. Meek surrender to a better side.

    Both those things must change, and that process must start from today.

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  15. Very little movement of players creating options for the pass. That is the hallmark of a passing game. The player on the ball needs to have many passing options. We are hardly giving them options resulting in the need to either go back or try a difficult pass which ends up with the opposition. Wenger teams are known for movement up front creating openings for the pass.

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  16. how many shots did we actually have on target, at the moment I can only think of ramsey’s one in the first half, and the almost backpass like shot from theo.

    a truly disappointed performance, not sure if even one of our players played to their max today,
    for me Wenger needs to make it clear to the squad that this performance was unacceptable, and that FA Cup final places are up for grabs and that they all have to earn their places in it over the course of our next 5 games.

    i ask again, can Szczesny play in the cup final.

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  17. Man of the match: Gibbs (even though he looked shell-shocked from the off)

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  18. Having vigourously made the case for Alexis to stay, can I state how rubbish he was today (again). I know he lacked great service, because our issues in midfield are still a problem. But his decision making was terrible any time he had the chance. And can I also say that as hard working as he is, I have noticed that he is incredibly lazy about coming back from an offside position.

    Playing Ox at wingback is a problem against the better sides it seems because he is not a defender. He doesn’t think like one. Bellerin might have helped contain them better.

    We need to accept where we stand right now instead of moaning about it or suffering from an inferiority complex. We’re struggling, and 6th in the table seems about right. Do something about it in the off season. But for now we need to keep fighting every game, top 4 or not, to build up some form for the FA Cup final.

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  19. Ed, Ivam did promise a major review of how the club is being run …..at a recent meeting with fans….or at least he reportedly did anyway.
    but changes are certainly needed, including work on the defence….three at the back has helped a bit, but looks to be like they need a lot more work
    I still have this horrible feeling Wenger might just call it a day, but if he doesn’t, he may be pressured into changes he may not fully back.
    Overall, a very poor second half of the season…..just hope they can finish it on a high

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  20. well as seems to be our way this season, when given the opportunity to take advantage of rivals poor results, we completely fail to perform, man city and man utd both drawing today had put top 4 completely back in our own hands, but now even 5 wins will not guarantee us a top 4 finish. it seems our current squad are just incapable of rising to the occasion, the pressure seems to paralyze them, the get a collective head fart, pass when they should shoot and shoot when they should pass, misplace or mishit even the simplest of passes or crosses.

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  21. I feel Alexis needs to start playing more like Ronaldo and stop wasting time on the wing. Get closer to Giroud. Get the knock downs. Play a couple of one twos and get a shot off. If you are good at scoring goals no point being so far away from the goal.

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  22. No Santi, no party. Simple but true.

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  23. mandy the board can add a director of football, but that would have no effect on anything under wenger’s control. And the only effect it could have on wenger is to help the club attain the better players he wants signed, and to help get new contracts signed by those we want to keep. a DOF will not have anything to do with training the players, coaching sessions, or the choice of tactics, or team selections. Its not within the scope of a DOF, all that is the managers remit.

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  24. You can only play like Ronaldo if you have a cohesive and strong team behind you, other offensive weapons, and everyone prepared to allow you to be the spearhead.

    Like I said earlier, Alexis needs help in attack. But we also need a strong midfield. The way we’ve fallen, two seasons in a row, when Santi went out is illustrative enough.

    Regardless of the manager’s future, the club will have to open up the purse strings in the off-season, if they are serious about getting the club back on top.

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  25. Still think ONE of the problems, they are hugely unsettled by the manager situation, perhaps one could argue they shouldn’t be.
    This should have been settled long ago, unless of course he is going, and doesn’t want to make the situation worse by telling people. I am convinced that if he were staying, the players would have been given a nod and a wink….but if they have , they don’t appear to show it.
    If Wenger does stay, the best thing he can do i itially is get Cazorla back, and this time, start looking at a replacement for him, however hard that may be. It’s been a while since I have seen a player so integral to the way Wenger wants to play, the whole team seem to have suffered in his absence, especially Sanchez and Ozil…in my opinion of course. Hindsight, but Jack should have read the smoke signals on cazorlas age and injuries, and stayed, ready to fight

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  26. Chkmiaot the thing is, alexis in his three years here has failed to strike up a partnership with Giroud, he has also failed to click with Ramsey either.

    shotta, cazorla missed 23 league games last season, and has so far this season missed 25, which will be 30 by end of the season, and questions must be asked of our manger as to why he has been unable to find the tactics, formation, team selection etc that works for the players available.

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  27. Ed, cannot be sure as wasn’t there, but maybe in what was reportedly a bullish performance, IG was implying changes beyond just a DOF, with or without Wenger staying….apparently, he talked about reviewing the way the club was run….maybe just words from a politician playing to an audience, or perhaps some pretty wide changes that may help the club through a massive transition when it comes…..if this season has shown nothing else, it has given the appearance at least we are far from prepared for the manager leaving.
    Who knows, but this season has clearly shown the need for at least looking into changes and improvements

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  28. mandy, cazorla will be 33 later this year, and as stated above he will have by seasons end missed 53 of our last 76 games league games. so just over 2/3, should we be planning our game around someone with an injury record like that, especially one of his age.
    as I said above, Wenger seems at a loss as to get the performance out of the players we have, and up till this recent switch to a back 3, there seemed to be very little in the ways of a formation or tactical change to his efforts in compensating for the loss of santi.

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  29. mandy from the reports and quotes I seen from that Gazidis meeting, there was nothing to suggest that the club will change from being a self sustaining club, to a sugar daddy club. there was the usual talk of improving the scouting and medical side of things, but we claim to try and improve that all the time anyway. Other than a DoF who would take some of the tasks that Dick Law currently does, on transfers, and who would also deal with renewing contracts, the only other think a DoF would help with would be the appointment of a new manager when a vacancy arises.
    As I said I can not see how a director of football would change anything wenger does. Of course if his role is to decide on which players are signed or sold, then that is a whole different ball game, and for me there is not a cat in hells chance that Wenger would stay under those conditions, and neither should he. For me its crucial that the choice of players is always under the remit of the manager/head coach.

    Its been implied that we will see some additions to the coaching staff, again this can only work if it has Wenger’s backing, as you can hire all the coaches you like, but if the manager does not value them or let them have coaching time, and take their advice, then what would the point of them be, would it just be a pr exercise.

    we are getting a new head of academy this summer, so something more the club can say is a major change.

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  30. Well one of the reasons he doesn’t have a partnership with Giroud is because he doesn’t play with him. He drops deep and sticks to the sideline. Trying to receive the ball in space and run with it. I feel he should stay up and receive it closer to the goal so he can look to strike.

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  31. now having said that mandy, maybe gazidis means the club will be prepared to spend more on wages and transfers, maybe they intend to say to the manger, here is £200M to spend on new players this summer, not including any extra funds made on players sales, we will risk having no cash reserves, go out and get the four or five quality players that will move us up to the top. Go get Mbappe, Van Dijk, Varatti, etc

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  32. The game is up people.
    Well, for today anyway.

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  33. afcstuff‏ @afcstuff 53m53 minutes ago

    Alexis Sanchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain & Kieran Gibbs all lost possession 20 times each vs. Tottenham today. [@ChrisWheatley_] #afc

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  34. Steve Hills‏ @Merse10 2h2 hours ago

    Rashford and Kane cheating on the same weekend. Only foreigners do it remember

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  35. Arsenal away vs. the current top 10 in the PL:
    8 games
    0 wins
    2 draws
    6 losses
    9 goals scored
    19 goals conceded
    2/24 points

    Fewest points from away games vs. the current top 10 in the PL:
    Burnley 1
    Hull 2
    Stoke 2
    Arsenal 2
    Bournemouth 3
    Boro 3

    [Opta] #afc

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  36. The game is up ?

    Nonsense – we support Arsenal football club – that is our privelege

    The game is never up

    We have work to do – on here – I shall press on

    Liked by 3 people

  37. eduardo

    On the role of a DoF. I think in general it is meant to be like the GM in American sports. Even there it varies, based on the coach and how much they are trusted.

    But the general idea is to keep continuity with team build in an environment where coaches are temporary (The GM’s office also deals with issues of compliance with financial and administrative matters).

    Coaches deal with the players, train them, get them to play a certain way and generally are free to focus on the game itself. Of course the GM and the coach have to agree on a philosophy and then interact with each other on some specific personnel decisions, but the team is the GM’s to run.

    With Wenger only at Arsenal for a short term, if at all, I think it makes sense to get in a DoF, and plan for that continuity.

    Look at Juventus for example. Everyone talks about Allegri (who apparently failed at AC Milan earlier) but I think the real hero there is Pavel Nedved, who plays that DoF role for them. After they were relegated, they came back gradually upgrading the playing staff, while changing coaches, and even losing the entire midfield core of Pirlo (retirement), Vidal (sold to Bayern) and Pogba (Became a dabber instead)

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  38. Somebody accused me of being obsessed with Santi. Did the Bulls win an NBA championship without Michael Jordan? Did Cleveland win a title without Lebron James? Understand who makes our team great.

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  39. TBH, not quite sure what IG really meant Ed. we certainly don’t need funding like a sugar daddy club.
    As CEO, he knows that if he doesn’t change some things, and things go south, there will be fan revolts, lost revenues, bad PR….but you are right, why would Wenger accept new coaches and DOF being sent his way. This incidentally is one of a few reasons why I disagree with many in that I believe there is a decent chance Wenger will call it a day.
    As for Caz, yes, he has had time to integrate a new system/systems to accommodate the loss yes, with Cazorlas age, and injury, the warning sirens were there. Letting Jack go also looks to be a mistake. But it seems to me that Wenger, like many, especially us stubborn oldies moves at his own pace and does things his tried and trusted way. I don’t think the concept of radical change is on his agenda. His ways have worked pretty well…until recently, unless this is really just a blip.
    The other issue, opponents are just so well drilled these days, many are physical and know the limits they can push with certain refs. Some cheat and dive. How many dodgy pens is that have we conceded this season? I think in general, these days, these dark arts have gradually become more abhorrent to Wengers principals, to the extent I am not sure he wants to lower himself to taking special steps to counter them, he certainly seems to be having increasing difficulty with such teams….just look at his record against arch cheats like Poch and Jose. I expect we will see far more dark arts under the next man, sadly
    Still, we have got a cup to win

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  40. shard I have no problem with afc getting a DoF, but it has to be the managers job to decide on the playing staff, and who his coaches are, it is up to the dof, to sign the players the manager wants, and extend the contracts of those he wants to keep, and get best price for those no longer wanted. players, team selection, formations, tactics, training and coaching is all down to the manager.

    I said it earlier, I don’t see any reason why Wenger would have a problem with a DoF, as long as the running of the first team remains the managers job. And if it does not then it would only be right for Arsene to leave.

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  41. All this navel gazing about management set-up, coaching etc. misses a key fact about football and any team sport, i.e. you go as far as your best players will carry you.

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  42. Mandy, on penalties

    9 penalties awarded against Arsenal in 33 league games, we have had 6 awarded to us

    spurs 9 awarded, and only 2 against

    man city 8 for, 4 against

    liverpool 7 for, 5 againsts

    bournemouth have won 10 and had 5 against them.

    man utd have had 4 for and 4 against

    only Hull with 11 against them, have had more awards against them than Arsenal

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  43. Mandy Dodd
    I have said before there are hard decisions to be made on certain players. It has come to a point where Arsenal are going to need to change out 6 players and find 6 players if we are not careful, which is a massive risk. The club and the manager have held on for too long to some players.I am not saying this out of dissapointment, I have commented on this when we have won games. as I tend to not want to comment when we lose .

    Santi has been missing since October, I cannot see one player who can take over his role as the Technical Leader. So he will have to be brought in that is a start, without Technical Leadership the team is rudder less, no matter what formation we play ,as we lack real Spiritual Leadership.
    These positions are somewhat intangible in football as there is not metric of which to measure them by, but if I say DB10 was the last great Technical Leader and PV4 was our last great Spritual Leader you understand what type of players we need. These players are not ten-a-penny but they are out there.
    Players develop themselves into these roles with desire to improve everyday, but I just don’t see that desire in enough of the players we have at the club.

    Wengerball does not work consistantly without these key players.

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  44. shotta that is to suggest that the manager, coaching, tactics has no bearing on the results,

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  45. eduardo792,
    losing the ball sometimes means they were trying too hard.
    It also shows that the CMs were not supportive enough.
    Rambo & Xhaka both do get “leg-tied” a lot during tight games (way more than Elneny or LeCoq).
    That quick change of direction is what Santi has above and beyond others..its what Ozil has missed so much this season.
    Rightfully said though Santi @ 33 cannot be depended on as 1st maestro next season.
    Replacements must be found (note ze plural).
    Changes must be made.

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  46. I disagree Ed. The whole point of a DoF is that a a coach can’t buy players for his own 2 or 3 year tenure, and then leave the team in the lurch with a 5-6 year rebuilding exercise. Sure, it is not likely to be the case with Arsene, unlike some other ‘top’ coaches.

    But why Arsenal need a DoF is beyond negotiating for transfers. Arsene Wenger has given Arsenal an identity. A style of play (which admittedly we aren’t playing to now) We need to enhance and maintain this. As I said the DoF has to agree with the coach on philosophy (or rather, the other way round) and then personnel decisions are taken based on that. If it is Wenger as manager (or coach) then Arsenal would be foolish to not have the DoF assist him, rather than challenge him. But if Wenger leaves, now or after two years, Arsenal need to be ready to continue his work, without leaving it to a new coach coming in to do everything.

    Basically, from the days before Herbert Chapman, when players were often chosen by a committee of club members, modern sports have headed back to distributing the responsibilities between a number of personnel.

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  47. shotta_gooner
    April 30, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    All this navel gazing about management set-up, coaching etc. misses a key fact about football and any team sport, i.e. you go as far as your best players will carry you.

    Somebody accused me of being obsessed with Santi. Did the Bulls win an NBA championship without Michael Jordan? Did Cleveland win a title without Lebron James? Understand who makes our team great.

    You get it
    These were not super teams
    They had a Technical Leader a Spiritual Leadership to support a top quality player in Jordan and James, they did not win untill the got those elements correct in both teams.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Well done, Stew, WE will stay positive!

    Come, come, think back to the Everton game back in the mid-December sequence.

    Arsenal, were sitting strong in second place in the table. 14 games unbeaten. The pundits proclaiming Wenger had finally addressed the balance and depth in the squad, to land the premiership title?

    What has occurred since then, the results, the coaches and some of the players, have not been acceptable. On the outside, we do not know the mood within London Colney.

    Mr. Wenger, should have invited that guy, with his two dogs, in for a cup of tea and biscuits for the dogs. All the way, from Holloway to London Colney, was it?

    As for the entrepreneur, and his advertising the new toy, the Councils will put a stop to that. Instead of balloons, now “Happy Birthday, Ivan” beamed onto the walls of the Emirates Stadium. Nice try, Del Boy!

    On the next game, play up, play up, and play the game. COTG.

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  49. Shotta

    As I said earlier. Jordan, and LeBron. They didn’t win on their own. Jordan couldn’t win until they got Pippen. They used Jordan to build a team around him. Adding Rodman, a former adversary, made them better (72-10) Even a guy like Steve Kerr, who averaged only 6 points a game in his career, was a match winner when called upon. LeBron dragged Cleveland to the finals before he left (in an awful Eastern Conference) but couldn’t win until he teamed up with Wade and Bosh in Miami.

    It is not about Santi, or Alexis or Ozil alone. Just like getting Bergkamp was only the start. We needed Henry, Pires, Vieira, Petit/Gilberto, Campbell, Ljungberg et al to surround him with before we won big.

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