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Throwing It Away

I hate midday kick offs, they always throw out of sync. There's something not quite right about tucking intoa Beef and Onion pie at 11.45am. What with post match drinks meaning that you end up pissed by 6pm. I have toadmit that half of my beef and onion pasty ended updown in club level when I saw the team selection. I was surprised and a little annoyed. Why Wenger thought playing Bendtner upfront on his own would reap rewards I've no idea. I feelfor Nicky because he'sonly 20 and is never going to be able to demonstrate his talents as a lone runner. The selection was an example that we had surrendered the title and I just cannot accept that. It was improbable but not impossible and I think it was our duty to keep the heat on United. Our trip to Old Trafford now is little more than dead rubber and the manager has effectively thrown the two big domestic trophies in the bin. The fact that he has to continuallymake these gambles points to the paucity of options in our squad.

As expected, the visitors played a second string side but rather than capitalising and turning the heat up on United, we decided to treat the fixture with something approaching contempt. Picking and choosing which games you try and win is a dangerous strategy and I think this experiment is a very bad move by the manager. The game was of a terrible quality in the first half, with Liverpool simply hoofing the ball to Crouch at every opportunity whilst Arsenal were playing an unfamiliar formation and creating zilcho. The first opportunity of note arrived after around ten minutes, Justin Hoyte gave the ball away in midfield and Peter Crouch let fly from thirty yards, Almunia was at full stretch to tip over. Liverpool might have scored again, Crouch was proving to be the proverbial thorn in the side, and it was his through ball behind Toure, who had another terrible game, to Riise that had hearts a flutter, but Gallas was across to cover and force himtosky his effort. (As I type, Boro have equalised and I find myself looking on in patahy). The away side were marginally less awfulthan us and created another chance when Benayoun played a defence splitting one two with Lucas but dragged his shot wide when he should have scored.

Arsenal took 37 minutes to register a shot, Fabregas dragging a twenty yard strike wide. It seemed to inject the Gunners with a little belief and they were finally able to carve Liverpool open. Flamini fed Walcott on the right, Carragher's tackle fell to Bendtner in front of goal but he aimed a tame finish straight at Reina. It was an example of Walcott frightening an opposing defence. His decision making and composure still need a lot of work, but the discernable difference is he has a lot more belief in himself now and he's turning into a valuable player for us. Just as Arsenal began to improve on absolutely abysmal, Liverpool struck a fatal blow. Reina pumped the ball forward to Crouch, who beat Toure in the air and ran into space as Toure stood dumbfounded, Benayoun played Crouch in, who took a touch inside and fired a low shot past Almunia. The team were soundy booed off at half time which is infuriating as we were playing a lot of inexperienced players in a strange formation. Do these booing idiots realise how childish and spoiled they sound? What's more, do they think it helps?

Arsenal began the second half with more intent, it was impossible not to really. Toure headed Fabregas' corner inches wide with Billy the secret striker lurking. Jermaine Pennant demonstrated his abject crapness by fouling an ambushed Traore on the touchline. Fabregas swung in another excellent set piece and Bendtner lost Arbeloa in the area to head home the equaliser. Having unwittingly prevented a goal on Wednesday and missed a sitter at Anfield, Nicky managed to wrestle a Scouse monkey off his back. Say what you like about Bendtner, he's always involved which I take as a huge positive for a young player. The game opened up as both sides introduced their trump cards from the bench. As the Gunners chased a winner, Liverpool exposed them on the counter. First of all, when Stevie Me's cross was not cleared, and Andriy Voronin astoundingly hooked the ball over the bar. Voronin performed another passable Heskey impression when Gerrard played a through ball and Toure amazingly stood and watched as Voronin crept in behind him and rounded Almunia, only to fall over his own feet. Hilarious.

A priceless Gallas interception prevented Gerrard from running onto a Torres pass. But in injury time, Bendtner headed a ball across the area to an unmarked Hleb, who lost his composure and allowed the ball todrift past him. The final whistle sounded and the all too familiar feeling of frustration was evident again.I think Wenger has taken a stupid gamble by placing all of his eggs in the European basket. To have given up on the title is scarsely forgivable and the manager has placed enormous pressure on Tuesday night. Our entire season now rests with that result and Arsenal have shown that they find it difficult to cope with that kind of pressure. I understood and accepted us throwing the result at United in the cup(though in hindsight, had we beaten them we probably would have gone on to win the competition). The fact that we keep having to make these gambles points to our squad being too thin, the manager obviosuly realises he doesn't have enough players to sustain a tilt on more than one front. I hope this gamble pays off, if it doesn't and we end the seaosn trophyless, Wenger will have to hold his hands up and accept the blame. In closing, I'd like to say a huge congratulations to Pompey. I saw a lot of Pompey boys on my way back from the game and some top quality banter was had. One of them claimed to be an avid reader of Vital Pompey, so if you're reading mate (assuming you can remember our conversation,you were pretty pissed and so was I), we are the foreign legion and proud of it! Good luck in May.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday April 6 2008

Time: 2:50PM

Your Comments

United losing and Rio has just limped off. How stupid do we look now for giving up?
Little Dutch
I agree that the substitutions are showing the squad is a bit thin. But I don't think it's that Arsene is "throwing the league away". Sometimes, you just NEED to rotate, some of the players are just out on their feet at this stage of the season.
devvil
I can't agree that Wenger is throwing it away. Wenger knew that Rafa would ring in the changes and he did so in spectacular style. I think we had a team out more than capable of beating that Liverpool team. Also, had AW put out his strongest 11 and one or two of our key players had gotten injured then he would have been blamed for risking our Champions League chances in a nothing game. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I believe that, despite still needing a few players for this squad, Wenger put in place a team that should have won the league, and if it weren't for a couple of unbelivable individual errors, from players and officials, then we would be sitting pretty at the top of the pile.
Rocky7
Please Arsenal, you can do this. BEAT UNITED!!!!!!!!!!!!We gave you Gallas and 5 million! You owe us!
k_chelski
The only positive points were that Traore had a decent game(playing Finnan), Ade did well and Nick scored. The rest is crap, especially Eboue, just throwing him out of the first team might have a positive effect... what is Arsene thinking??? So many bad performances and he's still in!!! At least he should be ticked off big time.
stukazufuss
LMAO Kev. We'll beat United if you promise to draw with them!!!
Rocky7
Seems even more embarrassing after 'boro 2-2
ajwb
For the first time in 11 years i have to say it..."Arsene doesnt know"
vavavoom14
Eboue doesn't look interested. But I think AW put out a message to his players that he has given up. Weplay Reading in a couple of weeks,I think that would have been the time to rest players. I was convinced we were going to go through on Tuesday, but now I think Arsene has put too much pressure on it. We play at our best when we are relaxed, Wenger's gamble will make that very difficult. Our first team would have won comfortably I think and that would have given us an advantage. Plus, as United's result cruelly demonstrates, we'd be in with a shout of the title.I can't accept that we've willingly thrown in the towel.
Little Dutch
wtf is wrong with the Emirates crowd, they are lucky enough to be there and all they do is boo. Its sickening when you see players like Cesc and Almunia say the crowd are letting them down and its too much pressure to perform at Emirates and then go on to prise the scousers for the myth that they always have great crowds even in small cup games which is not true, but Anfield on any day puts the Emirates to shame. Emirates in the league = a soulless bowl, get some ******** real fans in there. Toure is fast becoming farcical and Gallas has bailed him out far too many times, phil to start on tuesday please arsene. United slip up but its of no great concern to us, but it is to chelsea and the thought of the chavs finishing above us makes me feel sick tbh.
hazzagooner
Rocky, sure sure, beat them first and we'll draw with them.... :p...
k_chelski
I don't think Wenger was throwing it away. He fielded a side strong enough to beat the Liverpool reserves but they couldn't. You could see we wanted a win yesterday, even though it wasn't that evident on the team sheet. We are still 6 points behind, just like last week, and we can trim it to 3. We do, however, have to win all our remaining games if we have any chance of winning, and ask ManU to slip up two more times (but not let Chelsea win). And with a growing dent in their defense, it may be possible, but it still far too unlikely.
Cheese.
without meaning to sound too rediculous, we are still in with a chance.. If we win all our games, rely on the chavs to beat man u, and hope that chelsea slip up in one of these tricky games like blackburn away or something... Ok... its a bit unlikely... but not impossible.. however if we loose any more points, then yes, we're out...
ArsenalRob
LD, I think for the first time you're basing some of your conclusions on a lot of 'what ifs'. I am gutted too, but just as spending 16.5 mil on Bent won't guarantee you a top 10 finish (let alone top 4), playing your first team against a weakened team won't give u a sure victory. Better chance perhaps yes, but nothing is certain. Going along the 'what if' line, we could have drawn again and lost some players along the way and guns would have been drawn against AW again, saying we threw the CL tie away. Manure played the strongest 11 today against Boro and barely got a result. Yesterday, Fabregas looked like running on empty, while the only regret I have is that Big Phil isn't/wasn't playing instead of Toure and perhaps Song in place of Gilberto. Remember that Wenger is the one who makes the decisions and takes risks, but all that is based on the trust he has in the whole squad, including Eboue. The whole Arsenal fan and blog community is now turned on him, and we seem to be in need of a scapegoat or a hate-target just like Russia needs a 'strong hand'. It started with Hleb, Adebayor, Gallas, Lehmann, Senderos, even Theo, now it's Eboue (Arseblogger is flying the flag). I don't enjoy watching him play as much as I do Walcott, but he is still an Arsenal player. I cheered on Ca$hley in the CL Final although I strongly opposed his selection - same should be with Eboue. Had we the smallest slice of Rafa's luck, we'd be in the driving seat now, hailing Manu Eboue and AW for their genius. We are due some luck eventually.
G4L
Wouldn't it be just great, k_chelski, if the results of all of the remaining games were down to deals made between fans? It's a shame it doesn't work that way. I really wish it did, though! :)
Cheese.
hazzagooner couldnt agree with you more! Every game its the same! No singing! People coming 10 mins from the start and going 10 mins from the end! People taking bloody photos of anyting from gunnersaurus to the o2 angels shooting off there guns at us!! They try and get the atmoshere going by playing "The wonder of you" but the ground is half empty coz so called fans are more botherd getting there 9 burger plus meal.
vavavoom14
It's a bit cheesey, Cheese, but fans think they are important, so just play along :D.
k_chelski
Alright then, help us knock ManU off the top and we'll guarantee you a top two spot! :)
Cheese.
I think the last month has seen the worst Arsenal meltdown since Wenger has been in charge. I can't find anything positive to say about being five points clear with four relatively easy games to play, with a realistic expectation of 10 points from those four games to solidify first place...then taking 4 points from those games. Arsenal have taken 8 points out of a possible 21 and are now third. That is the worst ***** up I have seen from an Arsenal side in a long long time. I do blame Wenger because it is his side, he picks the players and he motivates them, if Arsenal don't win the Champions League then those of us being honest will have to put this season down as another spectacular failure. I can understand the lack of silverware for the past two seasons, Wenger was obviously rebuilding, but throwing away such a strong position in such a pathetic way really is unforgivable.
Professor Calculus
I don't think we will win it, but it is NOT over. Maybe, just maybe this is the start of A United-slip-up. I'm asking a lot but just hear this scenario out. We beat United and so do Chelsea, but Avram's side lose at Everton (it's no easy place to go) before that. By no means impossible and although United will have the edge on GD, all three of us will be level on points. It could happen, and although we find it hard to disagree, you can't go along with what these pundits say (many said we'd finish outside the top 4, remember), they're all in their own stupid little world. Keep the faith, guys, it's not over until Frank Lampard sings.
super_gooner
Given what everybody, including us, thought Arsenal would do in the league this season, I find the reasoning that Arsenal are throwing things away a tad disapointing. We have been awesome in the face of adversity, and put up a brilliant fight for the title that nobody in their right minds would have predicted. It's funny to see people slagging off Chelsea's style of football and praising ours to the high heavens, yet when it doesn't pay off Wenger is to blame. Whilst I love watching my team win trophies, I'm an even bigger fan of being entertained, and whilst I am too bitterly disapointed at our capitulation, my hopes that I had at the begining of the season have been far outweighed as far as a title challenge goes, and if we can match the improvement for next season we'll be champions for sure.
Rocky7
I Would love to believe in this new hope but...it's over. Consistent quality wins leagues and Arsenal have not maintained their great first half of the season, which was actually tougher than the phase where they blew it. At one stage Arsenal could have lost against Chelsea and Man United and still be top. Which mighty teams prevented this scenario? Wigan, Birmingham, Villa and Boro. Arsenal effectively lost the league against those teams, man that's hard to take.
Professor Calculus
Yes Rocky, everything you say is right but having been in a extremely good position, to then lose it in the manner in which they did is bad and I see no positives from that. I'm not talking about where they are compared to expectations or the beautiful football they have played, I appreciate that and I support Arsenal because they are Arsenal not because they are winning. But to find yourself in the strongest position where the only person who can lose it is you, where you can even afford bad result here and there, from that situation to third place is only a negative chain of events as far as I'm concerned.
Professor Calculus
I was also thinking we're giving on on the title when I saw that team sheet. But when I saw Cesc's runs, I thought Arsene didn't really have that much of a choice but to rest players, especially when we're talking about constant runners like Ade, Clichy and Hleb. They did need a rest. The only regret I had was, as G4L said, why Gilberto ahead of Song, why was Senderos not even on the bench (while they got Crouch whose obvious aerial threat we had to deal with)? I also keep asking where's Denilson (the only 2nd-string player who could have given Cesc a break) these days? That said though, Traore and Gilberto had a decent game. Gallas facing someone like Crouch also did the best he could. Kolo still needs to rest. Eboue's much better in RB. I'm equally gutted to see that we didn't capitalise on ManU's slip-up (which Chelsea did) but that's my hindsight speaking. If we could knock out Liverpool on Tue, we have a good shout at OT next weekend. Look at what Boro did when they're more vulnerable without Vidic. And depending how Ferdinand's injury goes, with a right approach to the game, we can cause them problems. Then from there we could go back to the title talk/race.
Lou the Gunneress
All teams have a bad patch every season, and this was ours. Not to sound like a whinger but everything has conspired against us this season. Our best striker has only started 8 games, Our goalkeeper made an horrenous, unforgivable error that cost us points, unbeliavable refereeing decisions cost us points, and in just those three games we have dropped 6 points, which would have put us right back at the top. The lines in this league are that fine. I have no qualms with people arguing with Wenger's team selection yesterday, as it's clearly a matter of opinion, but when I'm reading all over the internet that the MAJORITY of gooners are begining to question Arsene and his methods in general, then is makes me ashamed. I feel, on the whole, as a group of football supporters we have become a bunch of spolied brats ... and to me, that is far worse than throwing away a 5 point lead.
Rocky7
It's strange because I tipped us to finish third in the summer. I thought we'd be there or thereabouts and fade at the end. But I didn't expect us to lead and blowit. I have to agree with the Prof, we had a great chance of winning the league and blew it. I'm positive about next season because we will learn from this. G4L, I appreciate your point, but one thing is for certain, the team selection yesterday points to the fact that we have given up on the league, which disappoints me greatly. I was behind the decision to effectivelythrow the cup game given the position we were in at the time,I was behind surrendering top spot in our CL group, this one I am not behind. The fact that we keep having to surrender competitions shows our squad just isn't big enough. If we lose on Tuesday, the manager has to hold his hands up and take the blame. I hope to God that it comes off, I really do. But I think we're about to see a very promising season peter out with a month left.
Little Dutch
I hope you beat United!!
Fan of Blues
We're still in it though.. united 2-2.. no rio or vidic against us... and united still got to go to the bridge!!! I've said for a while now with them still 2go 2 ewood park, there could be twists yet.. lets try and get back to winning ways. Normally drawing with liverpool isn't a bad result at home, but because of our position everyone says it is. If we can come away from old trafford within 3 points of them, we'll still be in with a shout.. as they still gotta go to ewood park and the bridge... remember.. rovers are another one of the boogie teams, just like boro.. So coe on the lads, we can do this.. by the way.. i hate watching eboue play for us... he's pants. If he spent as much time with his hands together contesting the ref's decisions, as playing some decent football... he would be contender for arsenal player of the year.. But he doesn't he's pants!! I'd rather see theo on the right from the start! At best eboue is a right back.. nothing more!
notaspur
Yes everything that can go wrong has gone wrong this season, which is why in the summer managers have to acknowledge worst case scenarios and buy players who can do a job when things go wrong. Especially at Arsenal where for three seasons they have been unable to play a full strength side. Wenger more than any other manager has experienced the devastating effect of key injuries, so to be hit by major injuries again and yet again have no back up plan is crazy. The back up plan of "Hope" and "Belief" is admirable, but there are things a manager can do to make sure his team requires less hope and has more capable players who can actually do a job in difficult circumstances.
Professor Calculus
When two of your starting XI are Rosicky and van Persie, you should legislate for injuries. In January 04 we bought in Reyes and it just gave us a little extra something, an option. It astounded methat Wenger did not buy a winger in January. There's nobody I particularly want to leave, maybe Hoyte. We have to accept Eboue is a full back and not a midfielder. But we need reinforcements. To be honest, I think the Rosicky situation has to be assessed, great player but I'm beginning towonder how he passed his medical. Did the emdical staff just kick the tyres and have a cursory look under the bonnet?
Little Dutch
You can argue that our squad isn't strong enough, but ask yourself honestly, would United be top if Rooney (van Persie) and Giggs (Rosicky) were out for the vast majority of the season, with Tevez (Eduardo) for the last 3 months or so? Even with Ronaldo you'd doubt it. Chelsea lost a few players this season through injury, and credit to them because they've done well. But without it sounding like I'm making excuses, luck has most definitely not been on our side, with constant injuries and simply terrible refereeing decisions wrecking our season. As Rocky said, it is partly Wenger/the players' fault, but if half of the decisions were correct, we would be top of the pile.
super_gooner
lol he was never injury prone in germany, maybe because they get a winter break but he cant be relied upon anymore, the same with van persie, they should be treated like half players, luxury option if you will. Wenger will have to go out in the summer and purchased 2-3 players if we are to make a sustained challenge next season, a winger come striker, a striker and maybe another tall centre half..
hazzagooner
Why do we need a striker? I just don't get it. Although RvP is on the treatment table 80% of the time, when fit he is deadly. Adebayor is now one of the most feared strikers on the planet. Walcott and Bendtner have made mass improvements this year and next season, they will be big players for us. We have Vela coming back from Osasuna, and I'd imagine Nacer Barazite will get a look in with the way he's performing for the reserves. Then, hopefully, we'll have Eduardo back in the latter stages of the season, too. Another striker could cause Bendtner or Theo to leave and that cannot be an option
super_gooner
naah we need a striker, we aren't decisive enough, a good indication of this is that none of our strikers have scored in any league games against the top 4, except Bendtner yesterday, I think another striker or maybe a striker/winger in the reyes mould would help us out, especially with dudu out for god knows how long.
hazzagooner
Yeah, when toe of your key players are Rosicky and Van Persie you cannot realistically talk about "Hope" and "Belief" and not know deep down that the problems are more fundamental. The fact that these injured players are not replaced by equivalent players is also telling. For example Walcott has not been used in replace of Van Persie, Denilson or Randall has not been used in replacement of Rosicky, this undermines and contradicts Wenger's reasoning as to why he doesn't feel the need to buy players. He obviously doesn't think the players he has available are good enough to replace the key injuries and yet he states that he feels no need to bring in replacements. That makes no sense. If he genuinely thought this then players like Walcott and Denilson would have effectively stepped into the first team and perform at a level which is required to sustain momentum.
Professor Calculus
"Chelsea lost a few players this season through injury,"Well..if by few you mean everyone plus playing with the third goalkeeper for a while..ya.. we were fecked.
k_chelski
Er and we've also got this small matter of possibly having Eduardo back around Sep, much sooner than planned. I know Prof would say that's building the side on "hope" again. How about this: RvP for 1st half of next season, Eduardo for 2nd (1/2 + 1/2 = 1 lol), Ade hopefully as a main one throughout, Bendtner, Theo and possibly Vela as options. That doesn't sound too bad. But a winger, let's not go there.
Lou the Gunneress
But our strikers have done so well this season. Pre-season I predicted in all competitions RvP would get 20, Ade 15, Eduardo 10, Bendtner and Theo 15 between them. RvP has got 8 (but has hardly played), Ade has 22, Eduardo had 12 by February, Bendtner has 7 and Theo has 5. There is still a few games to go to add to that tally, but I think they've done a bloody good job!
super_gooner
I tend to agree with Super, the strikers have done well considering. We need goals against the big teams, not necessarily from the strikers as they're usually marked extremely well by those opponents. Even Thierry was called a bit of a flat track bully. If our strikers can create chances and enable their teammates to score vs tough teams, great, which they did. If there's someone like an Inzaghi who'd just score in the big tournaments, it'd be fantastic. And Eduardo has every potential to be that lethal weapon against the big guys.
Lou the Gunneress
Your problem is that you peaked a little to soon, and couldn't mainatin the form. The Manc's just peaked at the right time.
YidEdy
another year without a trophy then boys?
merlin
Any team would struggle with key injuries but top four teams cannot afford to have this struggle which is why they buy quality squad players who can do a job. People have to understand that the whole argument about Arsenal being unlucky with injuries this season is not the point. The point is that Wenger tells us that his squad is good enough, he claims he doesn't need to bring in anyone, and yet he also doesn't have the confidence to play his own squad players, he would rather stick Adebayor up on his own for most of the season than play Walcott alongside him. He would rather play the utterly useless Eboue on the right than bring in Randall or Denilson, which speaks volumes about those players. The unavoidable question is this - If Wenger truly believes in the quality of his squad then why doesn't he play those squad players who play in the same or relative position as the injured ones? Instead, he plays first team regulars out of position or reshuffles the formation. This proves that he doesn't think the likes of Walcott are good enough yet to be played on a regular basis, which means that he should have bought some quality players to strengthen the fragile areas.
Professor Calculus
I'm afraid Kchelski is right, both Chelsea and Man United have had major injuries this season, perhaps not as long term as Arsenal's but still key players. The difference is that they have strong squads with players who can step in and do a job, Arsenal so obviously don't have this and so my point is that knowing this in advance and not doing anything about it is very risky. It has become clear to me now that Wenger didn't expect Arsenal to be so good this season, I suspect he thought it would be another progressive transition which is why he wanted to develop the team further, if for one minute he thought that in January Arsenal would be top with points and games to spare, he surely would have significantly strengthened the side in the summer so as to maintain a strong position. What has happened is that Arsenal outperformed expectations but then didn't have the squad to maintain that performance, the reason why this hurts so much is because the Arsenal meltdown it was so utterly avoidable with some key signings.
Professor Calculus
How can you say United have suffered with injuries? Ronaldo has been fit all season, Rooney's only missed a few matches here and there (so has Cesc but I thought it wouldn't be worth using him as an example). Hargreaves is the only player I can think of that has missed a proper chunk of games.
super_gooner
i don't buy the argument that we have a thing squad. if yu have players of the quality of Rosicky and Van Perise missing 2/3rd of the season and Eduardo being out for half the season, we are bound to struggle at some stage. you remove any 3 players from the United team of the equivalent of these three guys for the amount of matches these three have missed and they will struggle too. now it's easy to say that Rosicky and Van Persie are a bit injury prone and will miss their share of games in a season, but even Wenger could not known at the beginning of the season that they will be out for so long and get injured on international duty. the only thing i will agree with is maybe we are a winger short, but that is about it, otherwise our squad is complete..
luckys_10
I really don't think we need much. I like the squad as it is, but I think a few changes need to be made. I'd get rid of Hoyte, Eboue, Gilberto and maybe Jens. Then bring in a versatile defender, a midfielder and maybe a keeper. No striker needed. No winger needed - I didn't see anyone complaining about us not having a winger when Hleb and Rosicky were fit and in full flow.
super_gooner
and the title race is still not over after today. i can see United going winless the entire of April. they play us next sunday and then Blackburn and Chelsea away, and all three are games where United can and in my eyes drop points, because all the three teams are playing for something. and with injuries to key players like Vidic and Rio, they will struggle a bit too. next sunday is our title showdown. we have to win to keep our challenge alive. Chelsea play Everton before our game, and i can see them dropping points too, but then again they can win that one easily also. but the point is we win next week and it's down to three points. and then United are really under pressure with Blackburn and Chelsea to come, plus the Champions League semi final. Wenger said a minimum of 5 wins and a draw can win us the title and he could well turn out to be right in the end. but we have to win next week otherwise it is over..
luckys_10
That's the spirit, luckys. The thing that annoys me is, everyone says we have no strength in depth, but beneath United's solid back 4 of Nevilla, Vidic, Rio and Evra they don't have much quality with the likes of Wes Brown, Mikael Silvestre, unproven Gerard Pique and John O'Shea. We all know they are lethal going forward, but if Ade is on form, he could have a field day against a weakend United defence.
super_gooner
and LD it was vital to rest key players like Clichy, Adebayor and Hleb yesterday, they looked so jaded after the first leg that it was necessary to rest them yesterday to give them a bit of freshness for tuesday. i only think Wenger should have given Toure a rest, but by resting Senderos, he has given a clear indication that Big Phil will play on tuesday. i can see Arsene starting with the same team he played in Milan with Toure at RB. but the key here is how well he uses Bendtner and Walcott when he brings them if we are still chasing the tie. personally i'd like to see Theo given atleast half an hour if we r still behind in the tie, hope the Boss doesen't leave his substitutions too late if they are required. my only worry if Diaby. he hasn't got a game for ten days now, and liverpool won't give him the room and space that he got in Milan. Maybe Arsene can gamble and start with Theo. it frustrating with all those injuries we have, but also fascinating at the same time. bring on tuesday..
luckys_10
err luckys_10 judging on your earlier faux pas on what the arses were going to do to chelsea, dont you ever learn?, your going from 1 win in 7 and in 3rd to top spot. sorry but you got that totally wrong as well. a more likely scenario is that you get a draw at OT, we beat wigan, unfairly go to everton and,win then we will be top and stay there !! happy days!!
springy
Eduardo is a fantastic player,and no doubt we've missed his goalpower. But he wouldn't be in our first choice XI at the moment,he was showing signs of getting there. The fact that Rosicky and RVP have missed 2/3 of the season shouldn't surprise anyone.
Little Dutch
Yeah it's totally unfair that Chelski have to play Everton away, what are the league thinking? No wonder the desperate Chavs have to pay people to go and watch them when the whole league is obviously structured against Chelski.
Little Dutch
We could have the fantastic squad full of the worlds greatest superstars, but when you go through that patch in the season that all teams have, where you need to dig in, where chances don't come around as frequently and you have to grind out results, the officials calling things correctly can be the difference. Quite frankly, we have been robbed left right and centre by poor officials in a time where we needed consistency from them as much as from our team. But hey, why not let's do what some pathetic lazy journos do and blame William Gallas for it all?
flv
arsenalrulz4ever, i see you are another deluded goonhead plus you cant do the maths either, you got 5 games left, when you said 6 did you mean the CL game at cesspool and therefore dont expect to play 9 including the final?? bout right i suppose!!
springy
im glad that you agree its unfair little dutch, first fecking sense you've spoke in quite some time!!
springy
That's funny because I seem to remember your team go into the second leg 2-1 down? Moron.
super_gooner
springy we will finish above you in the league. whether as Champions or runners up, i don't know..
luckys_10
super_goon( how apt) yeah well we will have to see how the arscum get on r sole!!
springy
Yeah fancy having to play each team home and away, Chelski should be allowed to play every team at home twice. Got my ticket for Everton v Chelsea through the post yesterday, which is strange because I didn't apply for one. There was also a cheque from CFC and a note saying, "please, please come and watch our game. You can boo Avram even when we win."
Little Dutch
luckys_10 oh really, your off ya head!!LOL.
springy
I suppose technically, you don't need opposable thumbs to be able to type...............
Little Dutch
little dutch like luckys_10 your living in a dreamworld!!
springy
and i'm desperate for our rematch in the CL semis. payback is a bitch..
luckys_10
well payback we dont need to give as we have the upper hand in the CL as well, that wayne bridge, a legend!!
springy
lmao LD, but i wouldn't even send my enemy to watch Chelsea play. nobody deserves such a punishment..
luckys_10
winning more games you mean,yeah i can see that being a problem for ya!!
springy
Yeah Chelsea really are THE European side, I mean just how many times have they reached the final? I must have lost count.
super_gooner
a new legend will be made this time springy, and he will be from the red & white army..
luckys_10
lolzzzzz super gooner..
luckys_10
when weve played you in it we beat you, and 1 final in how many goes?? the underachievers of european football ...thats arsescum!!
springy
on the subjec of injuries that vital arsenal so pathetically cried about yesterdaqy, let me say this....neville, silvestre, vidic, ferdinand, fletcher, nani, saha...all injured, so DONT you use injurys as an excuse for your abismal form of late
united4life
We've got Rosicky, van Persie, Eduardo, Sagna and Denilson out. But of course, nothing compared to the sheer diaster United have had to go through this season, a few benchwarmers missing a handful of games. Diddums, how ahve you coped? When Ronaldo inevitably gets a long term injury (whether thats next season or in three years or whatever), promise me you won't use that as an excuse like we supposedly are.
super_gooner
You know what, I'll really look up the appearance counts and see who's worse. cos this is getting boring.
Lou the Gunneress
U4L we have never used injuries as an excuse this season, it's those *****ed up officials who have cost us points at a vital stage of the season, otherwise we would be a lot closer to the top at this stage..
luckys_10
And we're not having an issue with the injuries themselves, but the quality of replacements of those injuries. That's where you guys and Chelsea are ahead of us.
Lou the Gunneress
did of you lot think that we would be this close at the start of the season? I bet not - we are a young team and have proved a lot of people wrong this season - we are a good young side, and this extra year will provide us with valuable experience for next season. One or 2 shrewd signings and we can go all the way next season. I always thought it would be another type of season where we find out what we have and what we dont have - we lost henry and 4 or 5 players needed to be tested and proven in the premier league - most of them have passed with flying colours, and will be great next season; some just aren't good enough, wenger will have seen that and a couple of new additions will go a long way - dont forget also, we've been badly hury by injuries this season - its just the way it goes. Wenger knows- and he will get it right next season; if not this one - he hasnt used his magic hat yet - lets just wait and see
D4NNYT
I imagine SAF lost a lot of sleep wondering how to cover for that lot....occassionally....
radar
Well the first "if" happened today thanks to Boro....I am reading this stuff about squad strength etc and I have mixed feelings about it. Looking from AW's perspective at the the midfield, at the start of the seaon....he had Cesc,Flamini,Eboue,Gilberto,Rosicky,Diaby,Song,Denilson,Diarra and Hleb. Thats TEN midfield players with a mixture of youth and experience for the midfeld. The problem is that I think only THREE of them have been effective for us all season and now they are showing signs of tiredness.The other seven either through injury,form or other reasons have not come up to scratch (Diarra obviously went but was he effective when he was here ?). I think that AW looked at the squad he had and honestly believed that it was (is) good enough.So did many of us gooners right?.. Now looking at the strike force we had at the start of the season...Eduardo,Bendtner,Adebayor,Walcott and RVP.... most would have said that if they perform, we will do well and have no worries. Its easy to see why it again hasn't gone as well as we would have liked. Eduardo's injury,RVP's long absense,Walcotts under-use.....I honestly believe its a bloody miracle we are still in with a shout at this stage of the season. You have to ask yourself this...where would we be with Rosicky,RVP and Eduardo firing on all cylinders ? not to mention the promise that Denilson and Diaby showed last season?...I think AW was right in his gamble in some ways but Sometimes I wish that he would have signed a another striker....thats all !!...
radar
K chelski it would be extremely sad for football for avram to win anything
anonymous
I'll give it a minute of silence (while I drink) if it happens.
k_chelski
Under-achieving ?..is that spending about 400 million quid on players and not even REACHING a CL final ?...
radar
As many have pointed out, we need more strength in depth. Our first 11 dan turn anyone over on their day but they inevitably get knackered, and I think we have to face up to the fact that some players are ALWAYS going to be injured (RVP, Rosicky - you only get a 5th of a season from either of them). Arsene is to be commended for his principles but if he continues to not put his hand in his pocket (and spend the money that everyone KNOWS is there) then he is being stubborn to the detriment of the side.
Moorish
We need to beat United and beat Reading Everton at home and Sunderland and Derby away.
Hope Chelsea and United draw
and hope united draw with blackburn and chelsea draw with Everton away OR Newcastle away
ian7
for the 1st time I've to disagree with your view, LD. it is disappointing to read this article, and the many comments such as those of Calculus, insinuating that AW had given up and thrown in the towel. The pathetically subjective media/pundits and other naysayers can say so, I don't give a damn, but to hear it from fellow gunners really made me feel sad. For a man who have given his all for the last decade, transforming Arsenal to what we are today, yet having to stare at insinuations questioning his integrity from his own fans, that's depressing. On allegations that AW did not do enuff to bolster our "thin squad", nobody predicted RVP or Rosicky to be out for such lengthy period, Eduardo's misfortune came way after the closed of Jan's transfer window...of course, the argument would be AW should spend on 1 or 2 cover in Jan's window no matter what. If that is true, then logic says we should sign established and experienced players (not another budding raw talent). The question is, at what price and can we really afford? The board kept saying there are "money" to be spent if AW wish to, but exactly how much? Surely not in the region of the Liverpool's budget, let alone the Manu Us or Chelseas. So should we blow insane $$$ on one or two big players who need time to settle and gel and may not necessarily arrest the issue of "thin squad" immediately. And when the injured players recover and return, how could they be accommodated back into the squad w/o further disruption? The likes of ManUs and chelseas have the means and can take more risk and afford to splurge on more "big" players . Can AW afford to spend obscenely inflated $$ on someone like hargreaves and not play him regularly? So it comes back to AW's policy of polishing raw talents, which imho, is the best approach for us given the circumstances. I would not begrudge if anyone of us had held strong reservation of this policy and stand by it all along. But if we have kept quiet (silence means consent, yes?) and enjoyed the success brought under this policy, then I think it is not right to turn against it when things start to go a little wrong. I started supporting Arsenal way before AW's reign, being a "rare supporter" among the Liverpool/ManU fans-dominated community, was often ridiculed for our "boring boring tag". I place entertaining football above everything else and the last decade had been the most enjoyable and satisfying time for me as a gooner. Love is blind, I will definitely still be rooting for Arsenal even if we revert back to our "boring tag" in post-AW. But I hope AW's legacy will continue and we would still be the same entertaining side as we are now even if AW does leave in time to come. I do agree with the part on the section of booing "fans" at Emirates though, LD. Casting the commercial gain (ticket price) aside, frankly, I think we can do w/o these fair-weather spectators who do not qualified as fans. An arena with 20000 partisan fans with soul and true passion is much more intimidating than a 60000-strong crowd who either boo their own team or believe silence is golden during the 28th min to 50th min spell during last week's CL tie.
Temasek
Thats alot of hoping Ian7 :-/
gunnerkid107
Ill be the first to admit that we have performed much better than I expected this season. That said, I think its about time Wenger brought in some players which will strengthen the side immediately. Its all well and good buying potential superstars but they wont win you titles straight away. More signings like Sagna please Arsene!
codchops
Temasek, I dont think LD is questioning Wenger's policy overall, but makes a good point. Wenger should have rested key players during the games against Brum, Wigan etc, but looking at how that turned out, you can hardly blame him. Not using the squad more often is certainly a criticism, coz our key players look tired, and the replacements dont seem to fit right in. Traore & Hoyte had a decent game, as did Gilberto (for a change), but we still lacked the offensive threat of the 1st half of our season. The draw was disappointing, but fair result. The League is gone now, and given the manner in which we've thrown it away, its gutting.
prits
A left winger is really needed here, if not to replace Rosicky then even a backup would be welcome, The most we could get out of him is 1/5 of a season, and that bit-part job is suited for overpaid scums, not top-notch premiership midfielders. Pires was better than him even at 32, he rarely got injured and could score more than 10 goals a season. With Rosicky fit that would be a realistic goal but now it's virtually impossible.
stukazufuss
Tamosek, I think there's a slight crossing of wires here. As prits says, I'm not questioning the manager's policy overall. It goes without saying that I wouldn't swap him for anybody in the world, not a chance. But he's by no means insulated from criticism, I'm not demanding trophies or threatening to withdraw my support or anything like that. I take your point about trophies too, of course it's the pinnacle of the game and the ultimate desire of your team. But, to quote someone from another Arsenal blog and I can't remember who, I go and watch a football team, not a trophy cabinet. But, I don't see how there's any doubt that Wenger threw in the towel with that team selection, it was a clear indication that he has given up, which I cannot accept. Given that he threw away the Cup as well, we can safely assume he doesn't believe he has the squad to challenge on more than one front, so why no reinforcements in Janaury? I'm not advocating buying expensive superstars, our first sixteen matches anyone in Europe. We have enough chiefs, we need a few more Indians, a few more O'Shea's and the like. The point is, if we were one point clear at the top going into Saturday, do you honestly think Wenger would have selected that starting line up? I think it would have been a reasonable prediction to say that Rosicky and RVP would miss a large chunk of the season, particularly RVP who has yet to give us a full season. I agree with the Prof in that, yes, Eduardo's injury was unforeseen and very unfortunate, but a manager should always have a contingency plan in place. You make a good point about the finances, we're not nearly as plush as people seem to think, we still have a huge debt to wipe out and we have to manage that responsibly. But I refuse to believe we didn't have the money to buy a left winger. We made a net gain on transfers last summer, some of that could have been distributed towards replacements.
Little Dutch
springy - I did get my maths wrong.. what difference does it make anyway? I think that Chelsea fans are reacting far too quickly.. I mean.. it cant be fun to lose to Fenerbahche... can it?
arsenalrulz4ever
LD - I actually agree with you at the hypothetical one point situation.. but the fact remains that Hleb, Ade, Fabregas, Clichy, Flamini have played far too many games this season.. I just want to see more competition for places and some decent depth.. after all depth is used when you have injuries and my worry is that Wenger feels that it is more important to prove that he is right rather than actually go out and win something.. he wants to combine his footballing and transfer philosophy with a young team which will take some time.. dont you think?
arsenalrulz4ever
"nobody predicted RVP or Rosicky to be out for such lengthy period" - they are ALWAYS injured! RVP has been injured for about 4 years! Eventually someone at the club has to realise that we cannot rely on these players being there. We all hope they stay fit but they NEVER do. You will never get anything even approaching a full season out of RVP or Rosicky. They are both injury-prone to the point of ridiculousness. We have great players but the lack of depth in the squad is what ahs sunk this title challenge.
Moorish
LD, having a re-look at my post I realised I had digressed somewhat, so allow me to put things right - the ONLY point I disagreed (and still do) is your point that Wenger had threw in the towel on Sat's game or the FA Cup match. Took a gamble in the light of circumstances, yes, but I trust AW's integrity and believe that his man does not take a defeatist mindset into any game he had managed. The rest of my posts are more of a collation of "outbursts" from the many posts I read from this thread. My apologies for the misunderstanding. I guess you and I, as most of the guys out there in this forum, wants the best for gunners. We may differ in views sometimes here and there, but guess we can agree to disagree cos we know ultimately we meant well for the team.
Temasek
when things go wrong I guess its human nature to start pinning blames on something and someone. all of a sudden we are all experts and masters in the "what ifs" analogies ... what if AW had brought in enough covers in the Jan window, what if we know RVP and Rosicky are sick-chickens and never had bought them, what if we played this player instead of that player in that/this game, what if our key players play lesser games...the list could go on. Allow me to join the chorus - what if we had managed a win over Liverpool on Sat with the same team and taken full advantage of Manu's slip? Would AW be vindicated and praised to heaven instead? Ultimately, AW made the call on the running of the club and he would be answerable to whatever outcome at the end of the season.
Temasek
As Temasek said, when things go wrong we all point fingers etc. Perhaps we should of strengthened some areas either last summer or at least January. Strikers - he obviously had faith in Bedntner & walcott as back up strikers and they have not been good enough with the exception of Theo in the last month. And how can you account for Eduardo's injury. Midfield - Our midfielders have all been injured at once. Rosicky, Denilson, Diaby & Diarra having to be let go because he wants first team action. This meaning that players like Hleb, Fabregas & Flamini have had to play every game. Defenders - Not enough faith in Traore, meaning Clichy has burnt himself out. Injuries aside, luck(or right decisions) has deserted us as of Febuary. Imagine the officials had not given a wrong penalty against Birmingham, allowed Ade's goal against Middlesbrough, Called offside against Chelsea & given a penalty against Liverpool. We would of been 6-8 points better of and no one would of been questioning Wenger.
paul_ownz
And for all those who booed at the emirates on Saturday, you are a disgrace. Sell your seasons tickets now and F**k Off.
paul_ownz
yes, to add on to paul_ownz, I wondered what Manu' season would be liked if they are deprived of cristiano's service for just a quarter of the time RVP had been unavailable for us...
Temasek
Wenger was always taking a bit of a gamble / risk with the squad size. Ultimately it didnt pay off. Its not unreasonable to lay the responsibility for that at Wenger's door, just as he would have been given credit if we had won. I dont believe Wenger threw away the title against Pool, IMO, it was a wise decision to rest players. In hindsight, he would have done better to rest players earlier.
prits
That's fair enough, but I reiterate, if we were one point clear going into Saturday's game, do you think Hleb, Adebayor and Clichy would have been on the bench. I expected Boro to get a result on Sunday. Looking at it now, we could have been right back in it, with United needing to beat us to fend us off without their excellent defensive partnership of Rio and Vidic. Now, as it stands, even if we beat United we're not in with much of a chance and the manager has transmitted a message to his players that the league challenge is over.
Little Dutch
Has anyone given a thought to that Arsene Wenger actually BELIEVED that his players he put out in Saturday had the capaicty to beat Liverpool in the league and with the rest his other players got we could then go on to knock them out of the CL? Instead of transmitting a message of defeat to his players, maybe he was actually transmitting a message of belief?
Rocky7
Maybe, but that was Traore's first Premiership start this year, Hoyte's second. It seems a strange time to throw them into the mix, again, if we were a point clear at the head of the table, would he have played that side? I doubt it.
Little Dutch
I'll admit that the Traore one was a little strange, but Hoyte has played more than enough PL football to be able to perform against a well under strength Liverpool side ...... unfortunately he didn't. I have no doubt that Wenger was trying to win the game, though his consistent strange tactical decisions and formation changes do bemuse me. That said our squad looks dead on it's feet, if AW doesn't add to it this summer then maybe throw a few questions out there, but to start questioning him this late in the day is not productive and it really won't get us anywhere. We to support the boys now, not boo them. If we fail or if the problems aren't rectified, then ask the questions.
Rocky7
Of course the boys still have my full support and I really hope I'm wrong about this one. But I think he's got this one wrong, if we want to startplaying squad players when we're logisticsally in a title race, then we need a bigger squad. The manager obviously didn't think we could sustain our title tilt and a European tilt at the same time, so why weren't more players bought? I hope I'm wrong, but I think this game will have negative ramifications tomorrow, we've put too much on it and too much pressure on ourselves.
Little Dutch
True, it was a little disappointing not to see the squad step up coz I thought the side that we put out was good enough to beat Liverpool (who fielded a 2nd string side). Thats why I dont believe Wenger threw away the title -in fact, I hoped before the game that he would rest a few players, whilst playing Song, Traore, Hoyte, Bendtner & Gilberto.
prits
Bad fans! I thought AW could do no wrong! You lot expect so much from a bunch of schoolboys. Aren't you content with your entertaining footy? Or your high moral stance when it comes to player purchases? Make your minds up gooners. Bye bye from the Blues. And if you could be so kind as to put in one more storming performance against Manyoo before you turn the light out on your season, we over at Vital Chelsea would be very grateful!
Bumps
"Bad fans!" This from the supporter of a club who have to pay people to watch them play? I notice Chelski accepted a reduced allocation for the Citeh game on Saturday. I didn't hear if they booed the team off in victory again or whether they persistently insulted their manager. Perhaps you could enlighten me bumps?
Little Dutch
LD - I wasn't questioning your support! Just reading the comments of so many Arsenal fans recnetly just has me disheartened. It says something when our players would rather play away from home because "it's less stressful" Yes, mistakes have been made by all this season, but a lot of fans have been equally as guilty.
Rocky7
That's something we definitely agree on!
Little Dutch
I think this maybe a case of 'damned if you do and damned if you don't'. Having forgone the complications of the FA Cup and CC quite rightly in my view I wouldn't have thought two competitions to be beyond the resources of the normal starting eleven. From Wengers point of view he would have reckoned that he has no chance of resting players in the away leg against 'pool or the away match to ManU. On that basis if he were to rest players it could only have been in the home game against 'pool. Arguably the game against ManU is/was more crucial to any lingering hopes we have of winning the title so the focus and resources have to be on the next two games. In the end though decisions are justified by the results and this is a game we might have won with a stronger team. Then again a stronger team in this one might or might not cost us in one or both of the next two games. Who knows? I certainly don't. It's a tough call whatever decision you opt for.
Amos.
players had to be rested. Cant be seen as wenger throwing the title away. If the strongest possible played all 3 liverpool games and the man utd game, they wouldn't cope.
ian7
Ok LD you're saying that if we were a point clear, then would he had played the same 11 that he played on saturday? i think he would have, because just like you, even he could have thought that Boro can get a result vs United and even if we draw, we would still be a point clear or a point behind United if they win, and going into the game vs them next week, we would beat them and go two points clear again. it would have been a calculated risk by Arsene because he wants to win both the major trophies. so to say that he threw in the towel is completely wrong..
luckys_10
and when he said that 5 wins and a draw can be enough to win us the league, i see the logic in that. Chelsea don't have an easy game this weekend. Everton want that 4th spot and playing them at Goodison won't be easy. and our game is a cup final. we have to win it to stand any chance to win the title. and to keep the lads motivated for sunday, it is imperative to get a result tommorrow nite, and that is why he wanted the players to be at the peak of their physical condition tomm nite. if you analyse it all closely everything that Arsene is doing, it all makes sense..
luckys_10
Oh come on LD. You've got practically the worst fans in the league. Singing is frowned upon down at your gaff, and you know it! Our fans have passion sir! So when we vent our frustrations at the toad, that is coz we care. And gawd bless Roman for realising that not all Chels fans are stock-brokers and the such. And gave a little squeeze on a game and travel for a change. A little payback. How much is it to attend your ground?
Bumps
 

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