Sunday, March 23, 2008

Arsenal run out of legs and the league disappears.

Four draws and a defeat mean that Arsenal will not win the league this season. In fact, that string of results means we probably won't even end up in 2nd place, save for point-dropping on the blue-side of London.

Where has it all gone wrong? Perhaps the better question to ask is, 'where did it all go right'? The answer, in short, is a fully-firing, fully-fit team and lots and lots of home-games at the beginning of the season. We flew out of the blocks at the beginning of this season with a fair few easy home games, but it's been a struggle since January, if not perhaps even mid-December. Injuries to players we should really expect to be injured, and a lack of goals from players we really shouldn't expect goals from have cost us.

We've over performed; but ultimately it's the squad wot wins it and ours isn't good enough. Our first XI can take on anyone, but it plays too many games, and certain players within it don't play often enough due to persistent injuries.

Exhibit A: the substitutions in today's game. Chavski bring on Anelka, Belleti and Mikel. The first two are proven players of quality, the latter a beefy lad who we'd have signed if we were willing to splash the cash..

We bring on: Diaby, Walcott, Bendtner. Diaby is a waste of space, a walking moron who will not make things happen. Walcott and Bendtner have potential, but are they the players you can really see winning you games in situations like this? Maybe in the future, but not at the moment.

Or the United subs. United bring on Tevez and Nani, and still have Hargreaves on the bench.

We have a squad that is too small and too young. Arsene possibly has a project, but when is it going to come to fruition? Is it really conceivable for us to beat Liverpool, then Chelsea, then United or Barca to win the CL? It might occur, but do we really have the players or the squad? I'm not sure.

We certainly don't seem to have the goals in the squad. Eboue does nothing but fall over and lose the ball; Hleb dribbles endlessly; Fabregas is knackered.

Up top, Adebayor erroneously thinks he's Thierry Henry when he should be keeping things simple, while RvP has an almost endless return from injury.

At the back, Senderos is unjustly dropped for a Toure who has been largely at fault for goals in the last two games, backed by a keeper who punches like he's Amir Khan in the box, when he should be catching the ball.

Maybe we're 90% there; maybe even 95%. But from where I'm standing, it looks like a third trophy-less season. We've been in decline since Arsene decided to throw the FA Cup at OT, and we've never recovered from that drubbing.

Our squad needs midfielders who have the bottle to take on players; to run at players and shoot and score. Alex Hleb would pass the ball even if he was one-on-one with the keeper and he seems to set the tone for the rest of the team.

Maybe the team will continue will continue to improve but I still think we're a few players short of a trophy. Hopefully Arsene will realise this in the summer, and not just rely on the latest batch of embryos. Get the cheque book out and spend Arsene, because we're in a comfort zone at the moment which we don't deserve to be in.

18 comments:

Egg said...

Never mind, there is always next season.....

Anonymous said...

As much as i love him Arsene is responsible. HE NEEDED TO FRESHEN UP THE SQUAD IN THE WINDOW. NET OUTLAY NIL FOR 2 YEARS.every interview he says "my squad is not strong enough" well who is responsible for that ????. As an aside Eboue is a liability & Hleb as 2nd striker ...COMICAL ..how many goals this season 3..THE MAN WHO WILL NOT SHOOT...Please Arsene play Walcott alongside Adebayor.

Akbar said...

I will just say that no matter how beautiful you play or whatever it is heart breaking and frustrating to watch Arsenal play.
I will first talk about our offence. Adebayor honestly isnt good enough, he can lose the ball easily and can do something unthinkable but not score a simple goal. He definetly needs Van Persie who is more of a dribbler pacey forward, who right now isnt performing thus no scoring.
Coming to the midfield, I believe we have no wingers. Eboue is crap, he can run, trip and lose the ball but not score. Hleb is the most frustrating player ever, he will pass even if he has an open goal in front of him. Does anyone remember Pires and Freddie? They would score from impossible angles and long range shots? That was the beauty. We need bloody good right/left wingers!
Coming to the defence, I have been very disappointed with Toure, the guy should do much better then what he has done lately. He has been pathetic! We need a strong tall defender who can deal with aerial threat, other clubs aint stupid!
Finally the whole bloody team needs to stop god damn passing all the bloody time especially when there are 6 - 8 opponents in the box, they are not invisible! It will hit them or be intercepted!
Lastly players do get tired, Arsene you need to have a big mature squad, Traore is crap if god forbid Clichy gets injured! So is Hoyte. We dont have any descent cover players and I would not be surprised if many players leave this summer.
Afterall every player dreams of trophies and so do the fans. Its been frustrating to see kids playing and having such a small squad and when the kids get better they are sold for a profit to other players mostly.
The strategy needs to change and spending has to be done on old players if not star players. If Arsenal does not win anything this season like the last 2, its going to be like a sinking ship. All these young players leave the club when they are about to reach their peak due to trophy less seasons!

Tristam said...

I for one think that Arsene does have a great project and it is on the right track. This season has still been a great improvement thanks to two astute signings (Sagna, Eduardo) and a few players improving their game (Adebayor, Flamini). We do not need any radical changes. One or two signings may still be needed while Lehmann, Eboue and Gilberto should leave but we do not look that bad actually. Next season I fully expect two or three of Walcott, Diaby, Bendtner, Song, Denilson, Djourou and maybe even Vela, Gibbs or Barazite to make similar kind of improvement we have seen from Ade and the Flamster. This would add bolster to the squad from within. The fact that they have not been adequate replacements for the first team this season does not mean they cannot become adequate replacements in the future.

This has been a very good year for experience. In order to learn to win titles you have to experience losing it first. Having experienced the pain of losing it one year you will make extra effort to avoid the same in the next. If we had Eduardo fit, I would say we would be primary title contenders in 2008/09. I think we still are but there is an Eduardo-shaped gap in the goalscoring department of the squad. A smart signing or maybe a loan deal could solve that problem. Anyway, despite the frustration of the moment, Arsenal is still a team progressing nicely and we as fans should have patience. The future victories will be even sweeter this way and I have no doubt that the victories and trophies will return.

Anonymous said...

Spot on mate!

Senderos was solid, since he has been dropped the defence has been shakey again.

Diaby makes me fume, he walks when everyone around him runs! He seems more interested in the colour of his boots than actually working for the team-it does not suprise me his best mate is lassana diarra-the attitude stinks.

Anonymous said...

Agree with both Tristam and main post.
It's clear the squad was too small, but we have improved greatly from last year.
Cashflow and debt situation at the club seem very promising and Wenger had never actually said he doesn't want to spend, more that he doesn't want to overextend the club - in other words,there's no reason to not spend going forward. I fully expect him to splash some cash in the summer, as we need to.
Still, Moscow here we come!

Anonymous said...

Its a bit ironic to lambast Hleb for not shooting, then complain when his shots go out for a throw. He doesnt shoot because he cant, simple as that. He is a link player and has done as much as anyone in the squad, including Cesc, Adebayor and Gallas to keep us in the race until mid March. Whether he is replaceable is questionable, but all I will say is that goals win games and Hleb doesnt score enough.

Ade is far too erratic to be first choice striker. He should be at best a third choice. He plays every game, where is the competition?

Fans arent asking for mega stars, just players in the 24-27 age range who can come in and do a job straightaway. If we bought one more Sagna and one more Eduardo, Im sure we would be in a better position.

Anonymous said...

Let's be honest. AW is responsible for the latest blow up. Back in 2003 a similar lead was also thrown away.then the excuse was there was insufficient money for transfers.Now he has a mountain of gbp he chose not to spend it.I wonder what the excuse will be next time.
Arsenal's pretty soccer maybe a joy to watch but it won't win matches when the going gets tough.
Chelsea may not be attractive to watch but they win ugly. Last night's long ball,alien to AW, won them the match.
At the rate Arsenal are going a cl place may not be easy to get especially with most teams strengthening.I know in AW/ youth we trust but how long can the trust go on if pretty soccer is rewarded with draws or worse get mugged and lose.
Think about it AW.
Good night.

Anonymous said...

Now that the cl is looming we Arsenal fans better get ready for heart break.Assumin ARsenal reach the semi finalor final,opposing teams have sussed how the gunners play.there is no variation. It's pass all day on the ground.
Is it any wonder Arsenal have found it hard to beat BORO,Bham Villa and Wigan.
It's better for Arsenal to be baeten in the qf/sf. Then the pain won't be so great. Of course aw in could change all that.But it seems unlikely based on current form.

Philip said...

£69.1M

Arsenal better use that wisely to help balance the current crop of talent with the 'steel' needed to become a more holistic threat. The Gunner are very one dimensional, and need to shore up the touch-pass play with other forceful elements such as size and strength.

They won't win the Premiership unless they can match Chelsea and ManU who field teams with the kind of depth and determination that comes with experience. Its win at all costs in the EPL, and now that AFC are seeing heavy operating profits, Arsene should balance his organic growth culture with a bit of the old hired gun.

There are plenty of seasoned players who would love to come and play at the Emirates...

Anonymous said...

I HAVE FAITH IN OUR PLAYERS.THE PROBLEM IS WENGER. STREGHTEN THE SQUAD!IMAGINE IF WE HAD ANELKA OR TORRES N RIBERY PLUS ANOTHER UTILITY PLAYER. THE TREBLE WOULD BE WIHTIN REACH.WENGER NEEDS TO BE AS AMBITIOUS AS FERGUSON. LIFE IS NOT JUST ABOUT CLASS. YOU HAVE GOT TO WIN!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm afarid with all the unproven no doubt teenagers of immense promise AW will pay for his frugality in the transfer market. All the rival teams buy players of proven quality.
No doubt the youngsters have performed admirably but it is the run in which iis proving so costly.The red faced had decided his team needed fresh faces and look where they are.
One final word. To beat arsenal have two lines of defenders and when the gunners attack break dowas it will inevitably be hit a long ball and catch them on the break.
It has worked for teams like Boro,Villa and b'ham and will work for other teams as well.
The gunners attack is as predictable as the sun rises with passing all day.There is no variation and the long ball is alien to AW's culture of pretty soccer.
It was looking so promising in Feb bf eduardo's injury deliberately engineered by the red faced former protege.
AW has no one but himself to blame for current slump. Don't be surprised the gunners are shown the exit by Liverpool and then it's back to the drawing board and the cycle will keep on repeating.Only AW can stop it and begin a new cycle but then it takes time.

Anonymous said...

Arsene always pride in his young team having potential. Is Arsenal a "team for the future" perpetually??? Isn't it important to win NOW and TODAY? Arsene depends TOO MUCH on his young players; refused to spend big on the market for proven and experienced talent, even when there is $$$$$$ to spend. It's understandable to spend wisely, but Arsenal needs top quality players to match its ambition. Quality pays and rewards you but they don't come cheap for sure. Or do we just have to keep on waiting for the "young, potential" players to mature? Then again, it's not certain how many of them will actually turn out to be top quality. Will Ade? Eboue?(plis seel him), diaby? etc...

Anonymous said...

Why didn't Arsene buy proven qualities like torres, anelka, ribbery, huntelaar, etc..? Why is he always going for cheap, raw, young talented youths? He is building an empire at arsenal. Fine. But arsenal needs experienced top players more than young talents to win.

Anonymous said...

If we had not been so cheap and got Ribery, who wanted to come, a top quality striker, and a crunching midfielder we'd be in good shape. We have to for next season. I'll pull my hair out if I read Arsenal signs 16-year-old...so-and- so.

Anonymous said...

Wenger is a genius, we know this.
But he is also stubborn. Whilst Ferguson's only concern is winning, and at any cost I might add, Wenger wants to win with style and erm...on a budget and with youth, and without disruptive players. A tall order though lets not forget he has actually won down the years. The most painful part is when you give fans hope. We, at the start of the season would have gladly taken this position with Sp*rs apparently breathing down our necks for 4th spot, but having gotten ourselves into pole postion and where your home games against midtable opposition like Villa, Wigan, etc should be there for the taking and your now thinking yep - draw at Chelski and win at Old Trashford and the title could be ours? But, Wenger never strenghtened in January, I always wanted a central defender (Martin Laursen now going to Juve and great a set pieces) to compete with Kolo and Willie because I never trusted Senderos and a creative player because I knew Eboue was never going to finish the season strong or any part of it come to that. Theo is still learning and really a throw of the dice, and Rosicky has been injured to the point it's come as no surprise least to Wenger that he wasn't playing against Chelsea. So who was going to provide the goals? Diably? Flamini? Gilberto? Goals always have to come from midfield with assists, i.e lampard arriving at the right time and creating his own luck. I know Wenger has a plan and I was always patient over the last 3 seasons as i know we as a club were re-positioning ourselves as a club without oligach (thank god) but more than a few of us could see the iceberg ahead, not enough experience, fatigue, an injection of energy and verve was needed and it wasn't bought. Wenger's position is not under threat but how much longer can we go as a club without a final or silverware? I'm a season ticket holder in the east stand and I'm thinking should I sub-let my ticket next season until some new players who are ready made are bought in, I mean we are paying 'theatre prices' aren't we. Sometimes it's nice to go to a show and know your going to see a star! C'mon Arsene!

Marc said...

Hi Goonerboy, tried contacting you through your contact form, but kept getting an error?

If you could email me back, so I can email you my message that would great.

(It's about an Arsenal Legend)

Thanks

Anonymous said...

I think we should send all these comments to AW. All mostly sensible and reasoned. As Gooners we were all mostly happy to put up with 3 seasons without a pot while we waited for our 'exciting' youngsters to come forward. The simple question now is, which of them can replace Sagna ?. Therein lies the problem. This squad had the chance with ten games left to win this league this year. Not next year or the year after. Why are we not out of sight now?. I think AW famed myopia is spreading to his view of this squad. Start at the back, Almunia is ok but would be nobody's first choice. Sagna is my player of the season, what are we going to do for the next 3 weeks? Galla/Toure both great but can they play together? Clichy, indespensible. Midfield kills me. Fab and Flam, best in league but should a club our size be relying on 2 players in every match for a whole season? Hleb/Rosicky, be a greedy bastard for once and shoot,you might like the feeling of scoring. Ade has done more than I expected this season, Eduardo would have made the difference. RVP is a sicknote and cannot be relied on. With so many exciting youngsters is there not one who could be given a go up front or on the wings other than Walcott. And that is not a dig at Theo. I would love to see AW sign a Bullard/Nolan/Richards and a couple of his Sagna specials this summer. For me the most sickening thing I have watched this year was the sight of Hansen's delight with Arsenal being in 'freefall',wouldnt we all have loved to see our team prove him wrong.