Arsenal - Wenger's Whingeing Gets Us Cringing
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Wenger's Whingeing Gets Us Cringing

There is not really much of a bright spin to put on this game is there? The performance was as abject as I have seen. When I arrived in the ground, I just had this feeling that this would not be a comfortable afternoon. Sitting just above pitch level, I could see that the turf was already cutting up and the unctuous surface would disrupt our passing game. With Hleb out, leaving Cesc on the bench looked to be a mistake that Wenger also made at Wigan, as our midfield lacked a creative spark. That and as I took my seat, I was positioned directly under one of the beams in the roof of the Haliswell End, meaning drops of icy water rhythmically slapped against my shorn bonce around every ten seconds.

The Gunners started brightly enough, creating dangerous situations, but the impetus petered out as the Blades became more assiduous, closing down space and denying the Gunners possession. The relentless rainfall meant that the Gunners panicked in possession and either misplaced passes with infuriating impunity, or lumped the ball aimlessly towards the forwards. In fairness, I don't believe either side deserved to win the game given the lack of opportunities created, but the simple fact is that once United took their solitary chance, they outfought us. I have watched Christian Nade several times this season, and he has looked little more than an embarassing impressionist of a Premiership striker, but yesterday he transformed into this cantankerous flying machine as he outmuscled Toure to score.

From there on in our bright yellow shirts could not mask our pallid performance. The Blades used the conditions to their advantage and Chris Morgan in particular was inspired. There was little ontological proof of any kind of steel to see us through and five minutes into the second half I remarked to my friend that the game was over. I think fatigue played a part in our ponderous build ups, and a lack of players did not enable us to make an inspired change. But Sheffield United have been party to the same punishing schedule and have a treatment room as crowded as our own, the painful truth is that they wanted it more. No Arsenal player has played more than Gilberto Silva, yet he was our most energetic and creative player, the captain and Senderos are the only players who escape my scathing tongue. Davis and Morgan were indefatigable in defence, whilst Colin Kazim Richards provided a pacy outlet upfront. Yet as I type the names Chris Morgan, Claude Davis and Colin Kazim Richards, with all the respect in the world, should Robin van Persie, Tomas Rosicky et al be able to overcome them?

That said, some of the comments from around me were bordering on lunacy. The person next to me remarked that the Beast is ****, bring back Reyes!!! Yes, because I am sure Jose would have relished the physical battle in wet and windy conditions. In fact, when Baptista moved upfront I felt he looked effective and looks powerful in possession, he just needs time to adapt. In fairness, I know Dave questioned his need to take touches in the box, but the surface did demand it. When he received Aliadiere's pull back in the second half, I was exactly in line with the path of the ball, and it bounced like a rugby ball. A number of people around me decided to turn on Aliadiere and this is entirely unfair. Do not get me wrong, he had a poor game and wanted time on the ball he was never going to get, but his effort was ten times the indolent offering from van Persie. I think this is three games on the trot now where, despite his goals, he has looked lazy, complacent, arrogant and unwilling to fight. The only Bergkamp trait I could see in him yesterday was throwing his arms up demanding fouls rather than playing on and fighting for the ball.

Rosicky appears to have gone off the boil since his injury. I think his predicament could be symmetrical to Hleb's last year. Having enjoyed a promising start, an injury has curtailed his impetus. Toure is likewise enduring a dip in form, which is understandable as he is long overdue and he plays an awful lot of games. The sooner Gallas comes back the better.

However, what really disappointed me was Wenger's post match interview. He offered that Sheffield United had been overly physical and that his players gave their all. I can well understand Wenger's reluctance to criticise his young charges in public and I would always maintain that what Wenger says to the press and what he says to his players are two seperate entities. But to implicate United as thuggish is unpalatable and completely disrespectful to the opposition who ground out a win in difficult circumstances. I admit I have not seen the van Persie/ Morgan incident back yet, I just saw van Persie prone on the ground. But one isolated incident does not, and must not, inoculate us from performing for a whole ninety minutes. The reality was we were not good enough. Wenger cut a forlorn figure on the bench and his body language suggested defeat was expected. The only time he got to his feet was to berate the fourth official. Given his litigious behaviour of late, this lack of dignity is becoming very embarassing. The supporters become object of mockery and Wenger's claims will be counter productive as when teams really are over physical, referees and observers alike will dismiss our concerns as substanceless whining. In retrospect, I think Wenger owes United and Warnock an apology as he has attempted to defame their efforts. At the final whistle the players once again trudged off without acknowledging the fans. It is perfectly acceptable for them to criticise us mind and from this point, whenever they come over in victory, I will always view this courtesy with suspicion and whether or not I will formalise a similar return is doubtful. I do not want Arsenal or Arsene to be good losers, I do not want them to be full of pleasantries and smiles. But a little contrition and dignity to opponents and supporters alike really is not difficult. Happy New Year folks, and whatever you get upto tonight, stay safe and celebrate heartily. LD.

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

The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday December 31 2006

Time: 11:30AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
nice article ld, agree wengers excuses are pretty lame, iknew we werent gonna win as soon as i saw the pitch and out team sheet, baptista is not and will never be a winger, bring on charlton and we can forget about yesterday with a good convincing win, happy new year boys
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31/12/2006 11:59:00

Just seen Goals on Sunday highlights, no mention of Morgan van Persie incident, can anyone enlighten me? Knowing sky's anti foreign remit (owned by Murdoch remember), I am inclined to believe he is guilty (and he's English, so he is absolved).
Little Dutch
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31/12/2006 11:59:00

Oh and btw, Gerrard MBE???? Confirmation that a) the royal family are useless and b) the world has in fact gone mad.
Little Dutch
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31/12/2006 12:03:00

does that man never stop moaning and bleating???????
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31/12/2006 12:28:00

Morgan punched RVP in the ribs. Then slyly elbowed him right at the start of the 2nd half.
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31/12/2006 12:38:00

Be fair Peter, he is English. Perhaps an MBE would be a suitable punishment???
Little Dutch
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31/12/2006 12:57:00

Would hardly call it a punch. Morgan def caught him but VP embarassingly over reacted to the incident.
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31/12/2006 13:18:00

Little Dutch we have had to put up with the anti Arsenal Foreign Legion ***** for years from niave,biased reporters eg how many English players turned out for Chelsea yetserday?2 Lampard and Cashley.No one has them down as anti English for ruining the carears of Glen Johnson,SWP and Parker whilst they were at the Club.Spurs have employed more and more foreign imports since Commoli joined but nothing is mentioned about Zakorra committing 2 of the worst dives in cosecutive weeks by some of the Spurs loving press and any foreign player that joins Liverpool is quickly adopted as "resident Kopite"as opposed to a cheese eating surrender monkey that dives for a profession at Arsenal.Just work at the fact that Djorkief came above Pires in the Sky programme entitled"The Premiership's top foreign players",they struggled to find a meaningful clip of Djorkief in action.As for the main theme of this debate,I saw Arsene interviewed after the game and I don't think he dwelled on the physical side of the game at all.He was clearly upset at the abject overall performance which leaves us all worried about 4th spot again.
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31/12/2006 13:58:00

LD - Morgan 'punched' RvP in the ribs, however the so called puch had robin rolling around in agony but I can gurantee you that the force of the puch wouldn't have been enough to floor my two year old niece. VP would have been better turning round and calling him a big girl or something. Nothing but embarassment over yesterday's performance, from players and staff alike. Sort it out Wenger.
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31/12/2006 14:36:00

grimsby, it's not just the amount of foreign players we have, Arsenal has a very ethnically diverse fan base, sky is owned by Murdoch- a renowned nationalist and owner of the sun and the times (right wing). Rooney dived against Pompey a few weeks ago, no mention, Ronaldo did it against Boro and it was everywhere.
Little Dutch
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31/12/2006 15:11:00

I am 100% behind you LD regarding van Persie's 'performances'. He was able to disguise his ineptitude with the previous two wins and I think your statement "I think this is three games on the trot now where, despite his goals, he has looked lazy, complacent, arrogant and unwilling to fight" is a perfect reason for AW to drop him to the bench and use Ade and TH as his primary strikers. Honestly, overall I thought Aliadiere showed more determination and had he someone to supply him with a few through balls he would have created more problems for Kenny. He had one that he took with his left and was a decent shot, and he pulled back that nice ball for Baptista which the Brazilian squandered. Later on he blended in the greyness of our display but with most of the balls hoofed in the air without a designated target it is hard for any one, not Aliadiere to create anything.
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31/12/2006 15:54:00

LD you're being too harsh on the team. the players did everything they could on that pathetic surface. and whatever wenger said was right, i want you to see the entire match on tv and then decide for yourself if wenger was right or wrong in his comments about the blades. it was you who said that the Invincibles didn't win anything from 99-01, but Wenger was building a team, and he is doing the same thing right now, we have to take results like these and not get too frustarted, and the lads will learn from such experiences when next time they are in a similar environment or situation..
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31/12/2006 16:59:00

this season it is important to finish in the top 4 in the league. i hope wenger forgets the FA and Carling Cup, and just concentrates on the league and Europe, cuz the lesser games we play, the more fresh players will be, and i believe this team can really go all the way in europe, it's a different ball game in the Champions League, and with all our players coming back in the new year, we can go and win it this year. that's why i hope Wenger doesent give too much importance to the domestic cup's cuz we really don't need all those extra trips all over the country. after last year's final, the lads are really up for it, and if we can keep them fresh and fit, we have a great chance of becoming the kings of Europe..
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31/12/2006 17:03:00

lucky u know dats BS.
THFC Keano
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31/12/2006 17:38:00

Yyaawwwn! Is the article over? Were you suffering water torture in the seats? Bet that wasn't a coincidence. Here's what most teams learned watching the game yesterday. Let the grass grow long and wet it down thoroughly before the game. Pull vPerthie's bra strap and he'll snap. Based on an evident lack of manhood, Baptista might well be a eunuch. Toure's game continues to decline, go at him. As for the injuries excuse, hearing the same song out of other clubs. Newcastle, Spurs, WestHam, Everton have all had their depth tested without the rampant moaning.
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31/12/2006 20:03:00

and it's almost 50 yrs and you're still waiting... 3-0 to the ARSENAL, 3-0 to the ARSENAL...
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31/12/2006 20:57:00

dont panic,it was a hard game on a poor pitch,with 9 players out.i dont think many teams wouldve created much in those conditions,we must remember that the lads are still learning what these type of games are all about,they are inexperienced for these conditions and it will only get better,much better,but we wont have to wait 40 plus years or be fighting relegation,unlike some other teams, we will be fighting for honours
fran merida
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31/12/2006 21:24:00

good night whitenorf, isn't it past your bedtime yet >? man i can't wait till the kids go back to school, we might get some sensible discussion around here instead of silly little babies from other club forums intent to cause trouble.. may i remind you silly little spud fan, you lost against newcastle and liverpool, not exactly champions league place form is it ?
Report Abuse
01/01/2007 09:38:00

LD, when did Murdoch pick up a British passport? But more importantly, why weren't you boys gunning for the substitute keeper from distance, especially given the damp conditions? What is Arsene up to? It would seem that old red nose has got to both our managers!
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01/01/2007 22:19:00


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