Sunday, January 13, 2013

Either Wenger Strengthens the Squad, or We Get Someone Else who Will.

Oh January, you've been great so far. Thoughts as follows:

* I thought Arsene again picked the wrong team, which is a worrying trend from games this season. There were three decisions that I thought he got wrong, and I'll go through them separately:

 - Koscielny and Vermaelen are not an effective partnership. I think Mertesacker's form has dipped in recent games, and he was made to look a bit of a mug by Michu last week. But he does, overall, bring a calmness and sense of nous to the defence that is always badly missing when he is absent. TV and LK together just seems to be a purely reactive partnership that frequently descends into chaos. I imagine that Wenger was worried about us dealing with city's extremely mobile forward line, but, and just like against Chelsea earlier this season, it was the wrong decision and it cost us.

- Diaby's selection was ridiculous. To be frank, it smacked of desperation and arrogance in almost equal measure - desperation that we don't have better options in central midfield, and arrogance in that Arsene appears desperate for his prolonged faith in Diaby to be repaid. Diaby, on his day, is a fantastic footballer who brings a unique blend of qualities to his midfield. Unfortunately, those days are few and far between because of his appalling injury record. The fact that Diaby was removed after 60 minutes, in what appeared to be a pre-planned move, was incredible. This was not the type of game that you use to re-build a player's fitness. Players are either fit enough to play and compete, or they're not. His performance while not terrible smacked of a player who hadn't played a league game since since September. He is a player that badly needs to be released, and with talk of Fellaini having a release clause at about £22m, this would appear to be a no-brainer for me. But then I suppose I am actually somewhat ambitious.

- Diaby's selection raised big questions about Coquelin - is he good enough to be a part of this Arsenal squad, or not? For me, if he can't be trusted to fill in for Arteta, he shouldn't be at the club. He is taking up the space of a player who could contribute. Personally, I think Coquelin is not a the level required for a club that's serious about competing for trophies. Arsene either needs to give him a chance, or get rid of him at the end of the season.

- A final point about Diaby's selection - it meant that it was not clear who was meant to be playing as the holding midfielder. Given that we operate with almost zero tactical discipline, Silva was given the freedom of the Emirates to run about in the space between our midfield and our defence. It frustrates me hugely to see this, because this is down to a simple lack of coaching.

- Lastly, Theo started centrally again. More on this later, but perhaps some tactical flexibility would have been nice here, given that he was going to be playing against Kompany. Giroud should have started, in my opinion, and I say that as someone who has serious doubts about Giroud's ability.

* People will probably have forgotten most of the game's first nine minutes, but City were already on top when the pivotal moment of the match occurred. It's never a good idea to play the "what if" game, but I think they would have won narrowly with or without the sending off. That's not just me being pessimistic - it's based on the fact that our defence was already a mess, and City have better players than us. That's all. It's also worth remembering that City were without Yaya Toure and Kun Aguero today - I can only imagine the carnage if they had both played.

* Should Koscielny have been sent off? Yes. If Kompany or Lescott had done that to Giroud, we'd have been fuming if they'd escaped without a red. It was an obvious goalscoring opportunity, and Koz deserved to go. After a brilliant, apparent breakthrough season last year, Koz seems to have regressed this year. He always seems to have a calamitous error in him, and he needs to be taken out of the firing line for a while.

* Which brings me onto Vermaelen. Maybe it's the captaincy, but he seems to have regressed as both a player and a leader since August. His positioning is frequently terrible, and directly led to the first goal. Can he improve? I'm not sure. And, at a certain point, you have to wonder whether any player could come in and magically improve the defence, or whether we have a systemic problems that require a complete approach in terms of how we approach the game as a team.

* After the first, a second appeared to be only a matter of time and so it proved. The scoreline ultimately did not reflect City's dominance in the match. Only a few bizarre passages of play in the second half, where they procrastinated over who was going to take the decisive shot on goal, meant that the scoreline stayed at only two. It always felt that they had another gear within them, and I think they will come away from the game with the feeling that it was a closer much than it should have been for them.

* Gunnerblog joked on Twitter, and it's probably true - Theo's wretched performance was undoubtedly evidence that he's signed a new deal. Theo is infuriating - he frequently drifts out of games almost completely, and, I feel, he often outright hides in certain matches, which is unacceptable given the fact he is now an experienced player. I think the "Theo through the middle" experiment has had decidedly mixed results - notably, when up against quality players, like Kompany today, Theo was almost completely out of the game. That said, he almost scored when he did pop-up late on. Ultimately, it says a lot how far the club has fallen that we are being held to ransom, effectively, by a player of his calibre.

* So, Giroud should have come on. But not for Podolski, who remains the only reasonably clinical finisher at the club. Instead, Cazorla should have been removed, who was having, not for the first time, an extremely quiet afternoon. Santi is obviously a great player, but we needed him to step up today after the sending off, and he didn't. It seems that substituting Podolski is Arsene's go-to move at the moment, and I wish he'd leave him on the pitch because he is someone who will take that half-chance when it arrives.

* We were much improved in the second-half, although, as I stated earlier, I do think City were very wasteful in possession. Wilshere stood out and had probably his best game since returning from injury. Not only did he show a huge amount of talent, he has character and determination, which is more than can be said for a lot of other individuals at the club at present.

* It seems that we are really missing someone who can make intelligent runs in the final third. Our play often seems to reach the edge of our opponents penalty box, before breaking down. Losing van Persie has robbed us off someone who creates goals through intelligent movement off the ball. We desperately need to get someone who can open up space in the manner that he used to do.

* What it all comes down to, for me, is this - we need substantial investment in the squad. We are weak in almost every area of the pitch. We have three centre-backs who all seem to have one fatal flaw. We are incredibly reliant on Arteta - someone who has now finally broken down after being massively over-played. Cazorla is knackered and his form has dipped. We lack a spark in the final third. We have a goalkeeper who, penalty save aside, had a mixed game and distributed the ball terribly.

We need new blood and lots of it. If Coquelin and Frimpong have their careers at Arsenal "killed" by bringing in an experienced central midfielder, so be it. If Gervinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain or Theo complain about a lack of opportunities because we bring in new attacking options, so be it, etc., etc.

If Arsene claims, as he did today, that it's too hard to find quality players in January, then he needs to go, and be replaced by someone who can find quality players in January. If not Arsene, then our scouting network needs to improve. If it's not the scouting network, then Dick Law, or whoever negotiates our myriad, failed deals, needs to go.

After a disastrous summer transfer window, which perfectly set up this mess of a season, I cannot tolerate another window where we fail to make the necessary improvements to our squad. As 7 AM Kickoff said this week, Arsenal's 2004 side was almost entirely built through astute purchases in the transfer market. Much as it pains me to say this, if Arsene is incapable of effectively operating in the transfer market anymore, we need to find someone who will go out and get us the players we need.

As far as I can see, we have two weeks to find the players to save our season. Otherwise, a humiliating experience at the hands of Bayern awaits, as does the Europa League next season. Because too many of the players that we currently have are simply not good enough for a club like Arsenal, and that's why we are where we are.



Anonymous said...

We will not reach the Europa

Arsene Wenger. said...

We will solve it internally,i am planning on bringing the wonderfully gifted Oleg Luzhny out of retirement and then you shall all see........

Unknown said...

DITTO , time for new blood across the board. Save us Pep.........

Begeegs said...

To be fair, blogger, it isn't just the transfer market that has been a disaster in this past window, but the past few years. Not only that, the systematic approach to games and the comedy defending isn't anything new - it has been like that for years now.

These same players with a new manager with some tactical nous could transform these players into a good fighting unit. The problem is that Wenger used to be a good coach who had exceptional players who didn't require a lot of tactical coaching. These players aren't as good and do require that training. I would even include Gervinho as a player that would improve immediately. These players don't have the creativity of a Henry, Vieira, etc. The defenders aren't as good as Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole, etc. As a result, they need to be told what to do. That clearly isn't happening now.

Wenger needs to go if not now, then at the end of the season. He is seriously damaging the club. I only hope that his non-spending during this window is because he is leaving at the end of the season.

Anonymous said...


EZ said...

Excellent post, cheers mate.

Walcott simply cannot play up front on his own. Without Giroud we cannot win the ball in the air up top, so good teams like City just keep turning it over.

Sadly, Theo will never be Thierry.

Anonymous said...

I really think this manager has run the club into the ground arsenal are a selling club rvp was right to leave look at him now at man utd unstoppable. Sagna wants out and I am susprised wallcot will stay vermarlen should not be captin his form has dipped a lot and diaby has a poor game. Wenger was to talk about the fans getting on the players back to right they should be the team have gone backwards not forwards that's why are A listed players have gone its time wenger go he's a stubborn fool how lives in the old times he really needs to have a good look in the mirror cause this team will be out of the FA cup on wednesday and will not be in the top 4 come may so he either buys players or get someone in who will cause this is a joke as an arsenal fan I am fed up with the same tired speech every season it a real joke and the board are just as bad no all they care about is profit and their wage structure.

Anonymous said...

Wenger needs to go!Period!!

Tommy56 said...

The 2003 team,from 2 nil down and 10 men would have won that today

Anonymous said...

As far as wenger is still the manager of arsenal,i see no trophy coming.He is as useless as the boardmembers.Fuck u wenger fans!!!Wenger out!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wenger has lost it.

He's grown old and exists in a bubble.

His wage structure is wasteful and his obsession with making £15m a year in transfers has drained the club of its remaining talent.

Walcott on 95k a week. You have got to be f###ing joking.

I suppose he's still waiting to sign top top top top quality.


Anonymous said...

Pep's off to Chelsea for £80m next season.

Anonymous said...

If the body has no spine then it clapses. We call this the wenger syndrome.

Anonymous said...

Arsenal is a joke

Anonymous said...

All of you are disgraceful as Arsenal fans. Do you honestly think that the game's result was solely because of Wenger, or that the club's dip in stature is also because of him? What you all forget is that Wenger made Arsenal into the one of the best clubs in Europe. And yet here you all are saying he's running the club into the ground? I sometimes think that Arsenal fans are some of the most negative out there, asking for Wenger's head, saying all our players are crap, and hoping that some other manager is the shining light at the end of the tunnel. I bet you all expect that if Guardiola comes in, there will be some kind of immediate impact on the club, returning back to the glory days of The Invincibles. However, that's never really the case. Nobody knows this club better than Arsene. He is the man who should still run the club. In fact, Wilshere signed his new contract because of Wenger. I understand that he has made mistakes, but all of you ungrateful fans are pulling the club down with all of your stupid negativity. How about instead you all actually support your club, your manager, and your players? If you don't want to, then you can go support Man U or City with all the other superficial fans.

Anonymous said...

Arsene is doing a wonderful job, bless him.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous, spurs fan piss off, and hill-wood stop writing on this site........

Ed said...

Well written and accurate article.
Wenger does not have the ability to manage this club.

There are so many things he should be sacked for, no silverware, wasting 97 million in the last 2 transfer markets, not reacting to game flow by change of formation or substitutes and buying a string of useless players.

I have thought he needed to go for some time however for me there was a defining moment last year when Wenger got all pissy and jealous with the success Steve Bould had shoring up the defence. His infamous "it is not all him!" response when asked about the improvement showed a manager throwing his toys out of the pram like a petulant child.
As a result Bould was sidelined in training and the defense turned to shit. More of Wengers magic.

I have news for you Wenger it is about Arsenal not about you, you should be appointing the best man for any given job not throwing school girl like jealous hissy fits when one of the coaching staff excels at his job.

The time to go was years ago, even Henri saw where Wenger was taking the team, not building a strong team around Henri but relying on him totally.

Wenger please go now.
Fans please let your voices be heard and save our Arsenal.

Anonymous said...

@ 18:36


My negativity is pulling down the club.

No. Not reinvesting the profits from Henry, Hleb, Fabregas, Adebayor, Toure, Song, Nasri, Clichy, van Persie etc. is pulling down this club.

Signing sponsorship deals for £150 million and not investing it in the team is pulling down this club.

Overpaying youth players or woefully inept replacements bought on the cheap, and being unable to move them on because no other right-minded club on the planet would pay them that much, is pulling down the club.

Putting profit before the team is pulling down this club.

Nobody wants the club to spend itself into oblivion but the club are incredibly profitable and don't spend a penny, while charging fans the highest prices on the planet: Underinvestment and exploitation of the fans is pulling down this club.

There is something very wrong at Arsenal and its fans like you - in blind and ignorant support of this corporate sham - who perpetuate this downward spiral.

Anonymous said...

I'm impressed that you know exactly what the fitness & injury situation is with the squad.
Obviously we've found a new manager in Goonerboy!!!

PeteG said...

As a long time Arsenal fan i hate to say this but i'm glad we lost any other result would only be papering over the many cracks that are in the club. If the board and AW can't see what's happening they don't know or care about the club only worry about profits.
We haven't been able to defend 1 goal leed or even a 4 goal leed for the past 4/5 seasons.
AW has had a year to sort out Walcots contract,and he say's we are working hard on it.I could under stand it if he was a Messi but he is not and never will be.
I don't think he intends to buy anybody this January (now that Diaby is back till 1st of February) when he gets injured again.
I'm sorry AW has got to go & get a coach in who know's what his doing

Barry said...

As a fan and ticket holder, Wenger arrogance has now gone too far, to blame the fans and atmosphere as not useful, is a joke, Wenger has lost it so has Garzidis, bring back David Dean, we never missed out on transfers with him at the realm, and Wenger was more special then too. We are 25 points behind the lead with four months to go, if any Arsenal Fans are happy at that, then u are truly not a fan! If I was that far out in my job I would be shown the door, We are going to be third best to spuds and chelskis for some time,

Anonymous said...

I am a diehard Arsenal fan, but my prayers is that we should not even quality for the Europa League next season, may be this will spur but AW and the management board into seriousness.

It is obvious no serious minded player would want to sign for Arsenal except those who see Arsenal as a stepping stone to their career. Let us call a spade a spade, Mr. Wenger; it is time to throw in the towel.

Anonymous said...

Wenger is a cunt! we need some fresh blood to bring back the Arsenal we were used to!

Anonymous said...

Wenger has lost the plot. I believe he doesn't want to buy anyone in Jan. He wants to challenge for the 2014 epl by going on a massive buying spree in summer..
I think he has used up all the time given and we need someone who can fire the gunners.

Anonymous said...

Wenger's y project has been a failure and yet reports indicate he wants to buy Zaha.We have had enough of wc kids. Pennant,Denilson,Upson,,etc.These guys have been a waste of time.
If Wenger doesn't change his policies,Arsenal will decline faster. Some articles have been written about Arsenal being a business.
If Wenger can't get the players who can give the team a boost,there are many men ,prestigeous trophy winners,waiting to manage Arsenal.
If Arsenal have another season to forget, make it his last one.

Anonymous said...

It says it all when your manager (Wenger) says 'I knew selling RVP would help Utd win the title'

How on earth can he still be at the club, on that statement alone he should walk.

So you sold OUR best player to 1 of our 'so called' rivals. So the truth is, we are a selling club, we do not compete at the top but yet we are told by our manager we are competeing.

What a load of BS - Wenger OUT NOW

Anonymous said...

The team also needs fighters like Wilshere....As it is our players gladly accept second class in games. I really did not accept a better result from the gunners, I mean what can one expect from a team that consistently fail to grind results against team of Southampton's calibre? Honestly, I am beginning to get worried for Wednesday night! AW and his board lost it way back. They are just hanging in there hoping for miracles. Arsenal just isn't good enough. The unfortunate bit about our team is that AW knows that he cant be fired. He is like a god. I hate to say it but Spurs has a far better squad than ours! Why does AW protect non performers? He puts faith in players who are taking the once mighty team to mediocrity. Lest we forget, we still can't sell Bendtner!

kenney raikkonen said...

Huge mess, from top to bottom, can't see a way out apart from moving wenger upstairs and bringing in somebody new.

Agree with pep, klopp and all those names but I'd also like to see moyes in the frame (personal opinion)

As for the board?.....

Anonymous said...

Left back position needs sorted, Gibbs is far from ready, Santos should not even be wearing the shirt of Arsenal FC, our midfield trio of Jack, Santi and Mikel on paper is the best in the league, but they are too alike, we need an Inler

Anonymous said...

he is coming to arsenal thats why wenger wont spend

Anonymous said...

Goonerboy. "Boy" is the right terminology as your arguments are just what I'd expect from someone who was still in short trousers. How about Goonerchild or Goonerbaby. Equally apt

Unknown said...

Wenger need to go before it's too late. Gunners fan need to boycott attending matches at Emirates until some improvement be seen.