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Boring, Boring, Premiership!

After another display of defensive football from a visiting team at Ashburton Grove yesterday, Arsene Wenger has spoken out about the negative tactics that are threatening our beautiful game.

All too often teams come to Arsenal knowing that if they take the game to the Gunners then in all likelyhood, they will get ripped apart, but if they can sneak a goal and the build a preverbial wall in front of their goal then at the very least they can earn a draw, which lets be honest, is a great result for anyone coming to the Home of Football.

Can we really blame them?

Speaking on behalf of myself, I go to football because it's exciting, even in the old George Graham days when the football wasn't that great there was always that air of 'anything could happen', especially with Wrighty, Merse & Anders Limpar on the pitch. But now it's getting all too predictable.

Arsene Wenger takes the wheel,

'Every game we don't win is a massive disappointment. '

'It was very frustrating against a team with zero shots on or off target and when you have 70% of the ball. From the first minute to the last the goalkeeper was placing goal-kicks from the left and then moving them to the right.'

'They were standing in front of the ball at free-kicks. It was negative but that's the way the game is going at the moment.

'It's like a film you have seen 10 times. It is becoming boring.'

I've been asked many times by Chelsea fans visiting this site if I would prefer boring football and many trophies or exciting football and be 'always the bridesmaid', and after many hours contemplation my answer is......

As long as my team leaves me feeling fullfilled then I'm happy.

If I am entertained and I feel the money I've paid for ticket and travel has been well spent then I can bide my time for trophies.

I don't want to be one of these people who must win at all costs, especially if that cost is ultimately the main reason I watch football in the first place. Excitement.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Rocky7 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday October 29 2006

Time: 12:38PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Spot on, mate, I agree with most of your words though I'm a United fan. But I really don't see why are you surprised. It's not a new phenomenon. You must have read Fever Pitch and therefore I'm sure you remember Alan Durban's immortal comment. And you don't want to be entertained by the other team, I'm sure, you want to see enthralling football played by Arsenal. Or did you enjoy our 4-2 victory at Highbury? It was a thoroughly entertaining game... for the neutrals. But are you interested in the neutrals' opinion? I don't think so. (And to be honest, such a game like yesterday's vs Everton can be much more exciting for neutrals than the type of "Arsenal are 4 up after 30 minutes" even if you enjoy the latter much more)
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29/10/2006 13:05:00

Of course results matter, but the day after you beat us 4-2 is was extemely comforting to have so many people coming up to me and saying "unlucky, that was a proper game of football". First and foremost I am a Gooner, but I love football, I'll watch what ever game is on telly, even conference. Not every week of course, but I'd rather lose like we did to you than a crappy boring 0-0 draw. That's what is killing the game. (Along with the money issues)
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29/10/2006 13:12:00

Also, I don't expect the teams like Bolton & Boro and such to have a go at the big boys every week, but once or twice would at least show their intentions to play football every so often.
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29/10/2006 13:14:00

Sophocles said, "there is nothing so demoralizing as money." That's the problem, money has sucked the joy out of football, resulst are demanded instantly and nihilism becomes the way forwards. It's interesting you bring up that Alan Durban comment, I liked Hornby's take on it, a confirmation that football had well and truly gone to the dogs. I think sides have a responsibility to entertain, but also to get results. The best thing Arsenal can do is score some set pieces and blow away teams that are negative. Besides, Everton went a goal up, so you can't really chastise them.
Little Dutch
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29/10/2006 13:25:00

I hear (not sure how true it is) that in training we don't practise corners (from look of which is very true) and I honestly believe, more now than ever, that it is paramount that we utilise every corner and make the oppo work. Rather than just float it into the keepers hands every time a little variation wouldn't go amiss. If we could come up with away of really killing a few teams who have negative tactics they might be forced to rethink their strategies.
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29/10/2006 13:31:00

Too true Rocky. Hope this article from The Observer last week is still 'news'. Gut feel says that the side that concedes the highest proportion of goals is us, so we screw up both ways. Paul Wilson in the Observer Still, I bet not even Reading fans knew that if corners were points, they would now be even higher in the table. With 47 corners in seven games, the Royals are bettered by Manchester United (52), Liverpool (57) and Arsenal (60 from six games). Yet the word 'bettered' reflects the commonly held belief that corners are a sign of success, the next best thing to a goal or a penalty. Some interesting statistics disprove this theory. Winning more corners might be a reasonable indicator of which teams have done most of the attacking, but it is hard to understand why fans still cheer them when they so rarely lead to a goal. Of the four teams mentioned above, only Manchester United have managed to score from a corner in the Premiership this season and they have done it twice, which puts them well ahead of the average. Reading, Liverpool and Arsenal have won 164 corners between them and not a single goal has resulted. All that cheering for so little reward. A whopping 13 Premiership clubs have yet to score from a corner this season and even Bolton, who might be expected to have a selection of cunning plans for set pieces, have scored only once. That is not the biggest surprise, though. The biggest surprise is that the team on the bottom of the table for corners won are on top of the table for goals gained from them. Aston Villa have won a paltry 20 corners to date, a third of Arsenal's total and a long way behind teams such as Sheffield United and Watford, yet they have resulted in three goals.
Gooner for 59 years
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29/10/2006 14:16:00

Yeah, Rocky, I know what you mean. It was depressingly painful losing to Liverpool in last season's FA Cup in that awful game. Our only defeat this season was not a good feeling but that was a fantastic game to watch again and it eased the pain a bit afterwards. But really, Everton are not the main culprits in ruining the beautiful game as they very rarely step on the pitch with the intention of destroying the other teams' gameplay. And there's one more thing, too: when the gulf in class is as obvious as it is in the case of Arsenal v Everton, it does not make the game boring when the weaker team opts for negative tactics because there's a constant bombardment of the area, there are chances etc. The players are not locked up in the middle of the park, chasing long balls. It's much more boring and scrappy when a superior team's only intention to keep out their opponents after taking the lead - as Liverpool or Chelsea usually do. The weaker team do not have the skill to break them down, they don't wnt to go forward and the neutrals turn off the telly...
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29/10/2006 15:29:00

Surprised Wenger has the testicular fortitude to actually admit he saw something. However, I have every sympathy for your plight. Teams, when they play against the top three are content to string ten behind the ball and hope to escape with a point. The worst thing that can happen is if they sneak a goal!
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29/10/2006 15:31:00

Yes but why would it matter to Chelsea Merlin? They'll just HOOF the ball anyway, a slight nudge in the box, a fake handball or Carvaliho fouls someone, you get a deflected goal and you go home with all 3 points :)
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29/10/2006 15:37:00

keepers are even diving out of the way of lampards free kicks now :)
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29/10/2006 16:27:00

You know, it wasn't easy to get Kenny to accept the envelope! Rocky, what did you say about boring 0-0 scorelines? Isn't that what your dynamic, free flowing exponents of total football managed against Real in the 2nd leg of the CL last season? And let's face it, the way they were playing last year 0-0 was a moral loss. But as Merlin points out, you have to find a way of breaking down the negative tactics, Jose, who you all loathe, seems to have managed.
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29/10/2006 17:29:00

I was at the Real Madrid game and I can gurantee you that neither team used negative tactics, infact I have been known to say that was my favorite game I have been to. That WAS entertainment!!! 0-0 isn't always boring, you know that, although I've come to expect these comments from you now.
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29/10/2006 18:04:00

you simply could not have watched the Real game! Definetly the best 0-0 ive ever seen and 1 of the best atmospheres that Highbury witnessed. Its not always the scoreline that underlines if the game is attacking but the intent of both sides.
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29/10/2006 18:12:00

Was it an envelope you gave kenny or a handcrafted pie?!
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29/10/2006 18:13:00

The Real game was not only the best 0-0 draw ever, but it was probably the most heart stopping, entertaining game I've ever seen. (That and the 5-3 v Boro). But you come to expect such unintelligent comments from termites, they've only been fans for two years so I suppose you can't blame them.
Little Dutch
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29/10/2006 18:33:00

Talk about heart stopping.....when Raul hit the post and had an open goal, mad jens pulled off an amazing save and I nearly fell off the back of the seat I was stood on whilst at the same time gripping hold of some random gooners coat. Anyone who thinks that wasnt poor football knows nothing...i repeat NOTHING about the game!
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29/10/2006 18:52:00

Im sure the clock end blew that ball onto the post, what a night!
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29/10/2006 18:59:00

As the North Bank were trying to suck Bobby's 60 yard effort into the net....unfortunately we were all to knackered from singing and shouting.
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29/10/2006 19:04:00

I'm afraid it can be argued though that Wenger adopted the exact same tactics when you won the FA Cup beating Man Utd on penalties in 2005. I am not sure what was worse, that it was such a boring game or the fact the lack of spectacle was created by the tactics of Wenger from whom we have come to expect so much more. I guess what goes round comes around
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29/10/2006 22:47:00

Actually SH I think you'll find we just played badly. There is a difference. We had injuries which meant a lack of strikers which in turn meant a change of formation. You can't say we had negative tactics that tried to kill the game because Man Utd murdered us, it was their own doing that they didn't put away some very easy chances!!!
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29/10/2006 23:10:00

Precisely, we weren't defensive, we were just awful. Well done Sir Harry for regurgitating media garbage instead having an opinion of your own. Baaaaaaa.
Little Dutch
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30/10/2006 06:21:00

Dont blame sir Harry he probably listened to the game on his wireless. That game has to be taken as the exception not the norm, we were premiership top scorers that year, were depleted striker wise and were very fortunate to win the game. It was just an off day........But we still won the FA cup.
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30/10/2006 07:27:00

I did actually watch the game, I was actually with some Arsenal fans, whilst Arsenal did have injury problems, they showed after the first 15 minutes, zero intent. The Arsenal boys were actually embarassed. Were you aware that Everton actually had injuries, Beattie had flu the previous week and wasn't really match fit, Vaughn hadn't properly come back from long term injury, a couple of their midfielders were playing under the weather etc. You use the injury justification for your performance that day ... are you the only team in the premiership to suffer injuries and therefore change your tactics to benefit your team? Aren't other sides also allowed to do this? I am trying to have a sensible conversation about the problem of boring football, not having a go at Arsenal, but pointing out ALL teams adopt these tactics so nobody can really complain when it teams adopt it against them.
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30/10/2006 08:15:00

So when other teams are unadventurous or play against a top attacking side then they are boring and defensive, however when Arsenal do it your players are just out of form. I think you do Mr Wenger a disservice with that analysis. There is nothing wrong with playing a defensive strategy to get a result against an opponent you percieve as superior, especially if your team is afflicted with injuries in certain positions. Arsenal did actually have Bergkamp and Reyes on the pitch and Van Persie came on. There are 3 strikers the premiership would die to have in any of the other 19 teams. (ok maybe 16-17). The only striker you were missing was Henry. Fact.
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30/10/2006 08:34:00

Not saying that at all, what we're saying is that we did it unintentionally. Team such as Bolton have pre-emptive strategies to go out and perform like this, the few times we have appeared to do it is because we have played very badly, backed ourselves into a corner and things just go down hill from there. Why would we feel the need to play defensive? When have we ever done that before (under Wenger) And as for having three Strikers on, Reyes was a winger on that day (like most other days) so if you're going to make remarks like that then we only have two defenders on and6 midfileders.
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30/10/2006 09:47:00

Everton did not change their tactics due to injury, its just how they play regularly, which to me is a shocking form of football I have no time for. No doubt finance has a big part to play in this style of play but Everton are a supposed top 6 side have qualified for champions league and they celebrate their time wasting point like a victory, pundits condone this mediocre style then moan when sven used the same tactics for England!
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30/10/2006 10:50:00

But looking at the line up, Wenger could have easily moved Reyes into the middle and gone 4-4-2. And chose not to. I'm not criticisng him just saying he made the decision not to play along your normal swashbuckling style as he thought you'd be exposed. Very much like Moyes, with illness in his team thought Everton would be exposed. Looking at the formation on Saturday the 4-5-1 strategy puts an awful lot on Henry's shoulders. If you don't play Van Persie down the middle, you have to make a choice between Rosicky or Hleb because Henry is fighting against at least 2/3 defenders all the time. If you play Adebayor or Brendtner when he's back, it creates more space for Henry, you score early, the other team have to play. In many ways the 4-5-1 formation whilst working in some games makes you more inflexible than the Arsenal of old. I remember Wenger saying he'd liked 4-4-2 as it gave him two banks of wide players to get the ball in to the strikers. However with only one striker, you are cutting the potential target in the middle by 50%. Whilst it has worked in some games, it makes it too easy for clever managers to neutralize you and now that Fabregas has filled out, you don't need the cover of an extra midfielder. Rosicky is more a central player than Pires and I think the transition has affected the way your opponents can deal with you.
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30/10/2006 11:00:00

what we lacked on saturday was a real different option. Baptista and Adebayour would have given us the extra weapons to beat Everton, height and Aerial power. the lack of width from full back also helped them as we had no Eboue of Clichy im unconcerned about our performance as I think we have a squad capable of dealing with the rotten questions that teams such as everton ask.
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30/10/2006 11:39:00

Agreed but I do think the move from the traditional 4-4-2 to the 4-5-1 has maybe put too onus on Henry's shoulders and he could do with some more immediate support that by their mere prescence creates space for him
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30/10/2006 12:49:00

I don't believe we do play 4-5-1. We still play 4-42, maybe not the same way everybody else plays it, but 4-5-1 suggests a flooding of the midfield which we certainly don't do.
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30/10/2006 13:02:00

Can I just say Harry it's nice to finally have a Spurs fan come here for some proper debate rather than the usual childish insults. Top marks.
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30/10/2006 13:06:00

Thank you. Whilst I loath Arsenal for all the reasons you lot loath Spurs I don't think that doesn't mean an intelligent conversation cannot be had. I think Arsenal have introduced a style to the game that all fans want to watch. At present Spurs are pursuing a team building policy that can only benefit the national team in a long run. Some of those players might have gone to you like Robinson and Jenas, others like Lennon and Dawson we were clever enough to pick up. It helps to bring balance to our game that the Russian with his cheque book seems intent of destroying. I mean £5m to Leeds for a couple of youth players ..... I'm afraid I am rapidly moving in favour of a spending or salary cap becasue whilst I think every team has a right to improve their squad, some of the amounts being thrown around are ludicrous. And all they get is a battering ram type of performance for it with an irrational manager who can't seem to open his mouth without the desire to insult or abuse or complain about something. He could start an argument in an empty room
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30/10/2006 15:50:00

Can you actually believe the FA sanctioned the £5million payment. Its ok to cheat if you pay enough for the privelige.
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30/10/2006 16:05:00

Its a disgrace
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30/10/2006 16:10:00


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