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Arsene Loses Poker Game

Last week, Arsene Wenger proclaimed with a grin that transfer deadline day was "like a poker game." This morning, it looks to me like he`s lost his car keys and the shirt on his back. The manager has suggested for some time that he would wait for deadline day to make a purchase, a strategy that was not only very risky, but one that left us short of players for key games at the beginning of the season. The lack of squad depth contributed to an insipid performance at Craven Cottage, Wenger claimed that fatigue caused by internationals and Champions League Qualifiers was to blame. He tacitly admitted that his squad could not meet that demand. Let`s glance at the injury list for that match. Diaby and Rosicky, surely you have to expect those two to be perma residents on the treatment table by now. Eduardo, who we knew would miss the first half of this season for some time and Cesc Fabregas. Not a massive injury list by any stretch of the imagination. It still culminated in a 19 year old on the right wing who is not ready to play domestic away matches yet, a right back in central midfield and Denilson, with less than 50 Premiership appearances under his belt as the senior figure in the middle of the park. The upshot was that we were overpowered by a below average Fulham side, who aren`t exactly stacked with muscle in the centre of midfield.

I look at the squad this morning and I am alarmed beyond belief frankly. Let us establish some facts, Diarra, Flamini and Gilberto have all left since the turn of the year. Bischoff (who cannot play until November for fitness reasons) and Ramsey (behind Eboue in the pecking order) have been bought in. That is negligent management whichever way you slice it. If your company lost three senior directors and bought in two graduates as replacements you would be alarmed surely? We`ve come to a stage where we are not even asking for improvements on a squad that could not win a trophy last year, simply replacements. Let me ask you this question, do you think Gilberto would get into the first team at the moment? Because I think he would walk in without question. So why was he allowed to leave without a replacement being lined up? Reports this morning suggest that Wenger made a last ditch effort to sign Xabi Alonso last night, in keeping with Arsene`s annual last minute splurging. I garnered the impression when he made the "poker game" comment last week that Arsene was perhaps enjoying his reputation as a last minute wheeler dealer a little too much. "I can still surprise you" he exclaimed after the capture of Silvestre. We all know that Arsene works under the radar and does it very well indeed, but on this occasion, the situation was critical and by not securing another central midfielder, he is in dereliction of duty.

The problem is I bought into the dream. I accepted the transition period that has taken place since 2005 because I could see the long term benefits of it. "They`ll come good if we let them grow together" I pleaded, I accepted the party line. The sale of Vieira was absolutely correct; he needed another challenge and was well past his best. Cesc Fabregas was coming through and it was important that we made him the fulcrum of our team for the long term. Sure, it meant a little short term pain in the 2005-06 season as we readjusted the team, but I believed in it. I believed in it the season after too. Long time readers amongst you will remember that I called for the sale of Henry a good twelve months before it came to pass; I believed that the torch was ready to be passed. The Invincibles had become torn apart by Franco Spanish internal strife, as exemplified by the Reyes and Aragones saga and the fallout of a match with Rosenborg which saw Lauren and Vieira come to blows. Reyes spoke about "bad people" at the club, the change was needed. Last year, after a couple of years in the comparative wilderness of transition, it started to fit together. We had the core of a side that could challenge for honours for many years to come. Unfortunately we were unable to surmount the final hurdle; the squad was too small to facilitate the losses of van Persie, Eduardo and Rosicky. We also lacked the experience to see out late leads at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and Anfield. Chelsea ruthlessly exposed our aversion to the high ball, with Toure and Gallas a not aerially dominant enough partnership to counter such tactics. Nevertheless, the problems were identifiable and rectifiable, a little more experience to supplement the squad, a little more height at the back. But we had the core of a young and exciting side that showed they were capable of challenging where all others doubted us.

So why have we sold our only two players capable of averting an aerial bombardment in Gilberto and Senderos? Why have we willingly let Gilberto and Lehmann go without replacing their experience? Why have we made the squad smaller, shorter and younger? Emmnauel Eboue is perilously close to being our first choice central midfielder. Theo Walcott IS our first choice right winger when he is not close to good enough for that yet. Denilson understandably wilted under the pressure at Craven Cottage without Fabregas to marshal him. What of Fabregas? Realistically, he is going to have to play every single game, otherwise Denilson and Eboue will again be our central midfield pairing, that in itself suggests Craven Cottage was no one off, but a performance we should expect to be repeated. Injury to Fabregas is very likely too, after a gruelling summer with Spain, the boy has not been allowed a pre season by a manager who has rushed him back into action, and is now basically telling us he must play every game. Following this international break, we have away matches at Blackburn, Bolton, Kyiv and Sunderland. We have zero opportunity for rotation; does anybody other than Wenger think this is realistic?

Don`t get me wrong, we have some fine young players in central midfield, but are any of them ready for the rigours of an entire league season? Do you honestly fancy Eboue and Denilson to get three points at Stamford Bridge or Anfield? Wenger has already admitted that he considers Alex Song a centre half and thereby not a long term option for the defensive central midfield role. That leaves us with Aaron Ramsey, who is surely not a purchase made with this campaign in mind? Especially as Eboue has been preferred to him in that position this year. That leaves Abou Diaby. Diaby is not a defensive player by trade; secondly he competes with Rosicky and van Persie for the treatment tables like little boys squabble over the top bunk, thirdly, sorry to say, he is not good enough to play for Arsenal. He hangs onto the ball for too long, his passing is atrocious and he is incapable of fitting our swift style of play. He`s also a lazy fucker to boot. His injury record before he joined us was abysmal, which again makes you wonder what the hell our doctors do during the medical when they`re supposed to be checking these things? Don`t get me wrong, I understand and appreciate the value of organic growth for a young squad, but what would have been wrong with bringing in a bit of experience alongside them? Is Denilson really going to benefit from more matches like the one at Craven Cottage? Now I`m willing to admit that I did not expect Flamini to step up to the plate in the manner he did last season, but wasn`t that due in large part to the competition from Gilberto? Wasn`t Fabregas` development aided by the presence of Edu and Gilberto? In 2006 we could have easily thrust Djourou in to replace Campbell, but we bought Gallas. I`m worried that we`re creating a crèche environment. Flamini, Adebayor and Hleb suffered some inconsistency until last season, when all three suddenly began to demonstrate the talent the manager knew they had. As soon as that potential was realised, all three agitated for moves elsewhere. What`s to say we aren`t bearing the rough plane of Denilson`s development, until he refines his game ready for a move to Barcelona in 2010?

Frankly, I believe the manager has become too enraptured with personalities. I don`t really give two shits about Denilson, Song or Diaby`s progression for their own personal satisfaction, I care about Arsenal. And if there are players out there who can do the job better, I want them. I don`t care if it stunts their development, as we have all said with the departures of Bentley, Sidwell etc. If they`re good enough, they`ll get through. If they`re not, well then it`s see you later quite frankly. Our duty is not to the players, it is to the club as I have said many times before. The fact is, the club is haemorrhaging staff, both clerically and on the field. No Director of Football has been appointed since Dein`s departure, no CFO or CEO has been appointed since Edelman left, nobody of experience has replaced Gilberto, Diarra and Flamini. Just what is going on here? It simply can`t be a cost cutting exercise, the money is there to rectify this, it`s a matter of public record, so why the dithering? On the transfer front it looks very much to me like Arsene cashed all of his chips to enter a game of wife swapping on deadline day and it looks to have blown up in his face, making his smug proclamations of his understanding of the "poker game" look really quite asinine indeed. He threw his keys in the bowl and got short changed; now we have a minute squad that is simply not capable of challenging for the title. We`re not even at a stage where the squad isn`t deep enough, we`re at a stage now where the first eleven isn`t even good enough. I sincerely hope I am wrong and that the Boss can see something I can`t, but I am looking at the asset stripping of the squad and looking at the replacements and I can`t help but think we are being consigned to a perennial period of transition while we wet nurse players through their troublesome youth and just as they come good, we sell them off to the vultures of Catalonia or Madrid, thus leaving us to begin the period of transition all over again. Hopefully, I can dig this article out again in May and we can all have a good laugh at it. I hope Arsene really does know, but course for perhaps the first time, I`m not so sure.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday September 2 2008

Time: 11:24AM

Your Comments

Very good article. Well put and exactly the same feelings most Arsenal fans are having this morning. Do we know what happened to the second bid for Alonso btw? I know the first one was rejected but apparently they upped it to what Benitez wanted. I know I'm massively clutching at straws but I need something!!
adamski243
Ignore above question. Just seen other reports about that which I hadn't seen earlier.
adamski243
If you cast you mind back 12 months, no one expected anything of us then. We didn't expect the kids to step up..... but they did! Who's to say they won't up the ante again. Song could be the new Flamini. Nasri already looks like a ample replacement for Hleb. Arguably we only missed out last year because of the freak game at St. Andrews. We need some luck with injuries (who doesn't) but have some faith. I am the ultimate optimist, but I'm not just saying this for the sake of it!
navydave
mate, you've articulated exactly what I think most of us are thinking. It's a good piece - the thing which concerns me is the effect it has on our players. What do they think when they see Utd buy Berbatov, City buy Robinho, Spurs, Liverpool et al buy whoever and we get no-one. No new face, no new spark on the training ground, no backup. Even Clichy this morning said ""If the boss thinks we need more good, young players then he will buy, if not, we will make do with what we have got." More good young players? Make do with what we have got? Is that what the club has become? Making do? Aren't we the 5th richest club in the world? Then how the **** is Emmanual Eboue our first choice CM.
michael105uk
Why rely on ifs, buts and maybes? Why not sign some quality/ experience and make a little more sure? Amd what if the youngsters do come good? Whose to say they won't do as Hleb and Flamini did and Adebayor tried to do and leave as soon as they do come good?
Little Dutch
Never go all-in on a Jack-six off suit Arsene!!!
Rocky7
The point here though is that in football you take gambles on attempting to improve your squad, you don't take a gamble on what might happen if you don't try to improve the squad. I think it's madness, let's say Arsenal spend £15m on Alonso and he is a flop, is that worse than not spending anything, winning nothing and never knowing if you should have signed more players? Wenger has made a big mistake here, or at the very least misjudged a key moment. I just can't see it any other way.
Professor Calculus
face it....were like french food...beautiful looking but ******** rubbish...almost doesnt count for anything.....
gooner_till_i_die
The transfer window was never going to be interesting for Arsenal and it seems that Wenger's been too slow with the negotiations. The reserves last night showed that there are quality players ready to step up. Coquelin looks like a copy of Flamini (maybe another year needed?) and Merida seems ready to step up too, how soon this will happen is anyones guess. Troubling times but not dire....yet.
VanPersie11
Negative Bull***t! It's all very well saying Alonso, but most of you would have been happy with the Swiss lad, who might not be as good as Ramsey (how many of you have watched him regularly?). OK it does give a bit of a buzz when you sign someone, but whats the point in having a big squad full of crap (no comments about a small squad full of crap please). I agree a top provern signing would have been great, but I'm not sure Alonso is the answer, and who else is available?
navydave
It might have been fairer to point out that Wenger was talking about the Berbatov transfer being a 'poker game' not neccessarily that that was the game he was playing. He only had one target that he deemed good enough that he had already apparently bid for and was declined. He gave it one last try but he wasn't available it seems.
Amos.
I'm not sure Alonso would have been what we needed either. But I refuse to believe that in three months Wenger could not find one player. If he couldn't, then why the hell did he let Gilberto go?
Little Dutch
The more I think about it the more I think he must just have faith in what he's got, hopefully it's not blind faith!
navydave
very good article. I think secretly wenger is also looking at the midfield and is worried. there is no doubt whatsoever that he tried in vain to sign at least 2 players but probably more like 3 or 4. his plans did not come off. he will be seriously *****ed off as well. he knows the midfield is weak AND I think he knows this squad cannot win the premier league. that will hurt him equally as much as it hurts the fans. Stephen Appiah is still available as he is unattached, which is a tiny ray of light.
gazzap
A trip to Wembley will do me this year....
shewore
on the bright side: Gilberto hardly played last year, and when he did he was, well, not good. Senderos did play, however his aerial challenging forgot one 33yr old Finn who scored a header from about 12-13 yards in a vital return leg of a 1/4final of the CL. Then he was depressd. Diarra had played about 10ish games before he left to fulfill his ambition of sitting on the bench of the French squad, so apart from Flamini who we didn't expect to play such a key role, and Hleb, who seems to have been replaced by Nasri, we haven't lost much. Lehmann didn't play either and the only usefulness last year was him pushing Almunia to be better. Now it's up to the young Pole to do the same. What we have lost in Hleb, we made up in Nasri. Gilberto's part time role can and will be replaced by anyone of Diaby/Denilson/Song. The only ifs we have at the moment are Rosicky, Eduardo and Diaby: if and to what extent can they help the team this season. If needed both Nasri and TR7 can play the creative role Cesc plays when he needs a breather, while the likes of Vela, Walcott and even Clichy can fill in on the left MF. Silvestre, Gallas, Toure and Djourou/Song are a good defensive quintet, and add to that Bac and Eboue on the right we're well covered there. Up front we're as good as anyone in the league: Ade, RvP, Nick, Vela, Theo, Dudu are all capable of banging in goals. The biggest challenge is actually to stay fit and focused. As someone said earlier, buying is not the only way of replacing players. Alonso would have been an awesome addition, as would have Veloso perhaps, bu they haven't arrived. We MUST believe in this team because if we don't there's no point. Dwelling on what might have been or guessing what will happen in the future is just as good as the ifs and the buts.
G4L
Another quiet transfer deadline day for the Gooners, but then thats how Arsene always works isn't it?
Red Wimp
Hang on a sec..how about Nasri? He is a player coverted by the biggest teams in Europe and you got him and on ealry perfromances he looks liek a great player. I understand the lack of central midfielders, but please stop the sob story..you make it soudn as if you are a team feeding on the scraps and cast-offs of the other clubs. You have the money, but unfortuntaly your manager is on a personal crusade to save as muc hmoney as he can. He is so far up his own ass he thinks the money is is own...it isnt, its Arsenal Football Clubs; and as you say in the article by not even REPLACING the quality that has left it is a "dereliction of duty".
united4life
I'm not sure if those news about last ditch bid for alonso are entierly true. First of all how would Alonso be a replacement for Flamini, Gilberto or Diarra. These were all defencive midfielders where alonso is more of a Cesc player. Secondly Alonso has not done much fore liverpool for the last two seasons ask any liverpool fan, he has had a few good games at the start of the season but is that becouse the rest of liverpool have been performing below form thus allowing Alonso to look good. As for the young players I have never seen them give anything less than 100% which is more than you could say about the 30 million£ players that utd and mancity just bought. As for not buyng any one special Nasri cost little more than 10 mill and already is playing like a veteran(hint; the kick on the scumbag) I was at the grove last Saturday and remember the champions could not beat them at OT but we simply tore Newcastle apart the only department where they outshone us was in downing pints. So tell me why buy a player where we already have enough cover, where we need to buy is possibly in DM and only possibly becouse I have seen nothing out there that is available, is avai;lable at a resonable price, does not demand stupid wages and wants to come and play for arsenal. Just becouse some teams are spending silly amounts of money on one ore two players dosent mean that we should or could.
Armory
But why can nobody answer this question. If nobody was available, why did he let Gilberto go? The performance against Newcastle was excellent, but the one against Fulham was appalling, why take one and ignore the other. Everyone knows how Arsenal are when we turn it on, but we can't and won't for sixty games a season. That's when experience and mentality comes in, when having the right players to come in/ keep the existing players on their toes. Nobody's saying we should spend silly money, I don't want mercenaries for obscene sums like Berbatov and Robinho, we need bodies and letting a load go without replacing them is negligent, simple as that. We clearly suffered last season because of a lack of depth and experience, how the hell does decimating both of them further help?
Little Dutch
We let Gilberto go because, for all of his experience, he is a por player and just blocked the path of a younger and better (at this time) player.
Tom14
Cos Gilberto was effin pony last season, simple as. And you for one have changed tact, i remember in your write ups claiming Gilberto played like an 'old man' which i completely agree with, the only decent performances he put in were at the end of the season when we'd let it all slip.
shewore
Why couldn't we just pay the extra 5k Flamini demanded and make him stay? Also, I have always underscored our main weakness in aerial challenge at the back and I believe it will haunt use perpetually since as noted by LD, the team is not getting any taller but very much the reverse. Silvestre is of the same height as Toure & he is predominantly a left back. I doubt he will solve our problem since we don't even have a good CM to challenge for high ball. I would repeat my observation again here that Toure & Gallas had rarely able to head the ball far enough even when they win an aerial challenge. The ball always fell inside of just right outside the box. I wouldn't even want to touch on their defending of set pieces. Enough said
Joe_@**
Arsene was out watching the reserves last night, he wasnt even trying to buy players - however we need at least 10 games before we have an idea of what this team is capable of, then the 'woulda shoulda coulda' can begin, 3 games played, 1 goal conceeded, 8 scored - doesnt look like we miss flamini and gilberto THAT much..yet...
bootoo
make that 4 games, 10 scored
bootoo
I would play Djourou at the back and he would sort out the aerial problems with Song in the middle and if the manager decides that Toure and Gallas is the way to go then play him alongside Cesc.
Tom14
Gilberto wasn't great last season and he would have been poorer in a midfield role this season. Diarra was irrelevant to last season. Those two going will have no impact whatsover on what happens this season. The only issue is whether we have adequately replaced Flamini. Either with Denilson or Diaby - we shall have to wait and see on that one just as we would have done if we had bought Inler or someone like him. Eboue and Song and maybe even Ramsey will contribute as much or more than Diarra or Gilberto did last season.
Amos.
LD first of all mayby you are looking to far when you look for gilberto's replacement, Wenger is most likely looking at a DM from with in the squad I simply dont belive for a moment that he would leave us short he is much to clever and exsperienced a manager for that. As for the Fulham game everyone was crap EXSPECIALLY the experienced players where where Gallas, Ade, Clicy, RvP and Sagna? And as for not able to turn it on for sixt'y games a season well who can? And we suffered last season becouse of exsessive injuris both long term and short term, how do we combat that, with a squad two deep, three deep or four deep? Buying plaeyrs four POSSIBLE indjuris is not the answer and all the less experinced players now have a year more, way waste that by having new signings push them down the line again?
Armory
I totally agree with LD's arguments here. Arsene seems to hold the the development of young players careers higher than the success of the club. The "no player bigger than the club" statement doesn't seem to apply to us. Who cares if we had signed 2 midfielders yesterday and it caused denilson/diaby/eboue to play reserve games. Or if it caused them 3 to step up to the plate and make the new signings dwell on the bench, at least it would have some competition. We have no contingency now if denilson and diaby do not develop. Denilson for me has not developed quickly enough to complement cesc in the same way flamini did last season. He doesn't have the same energy and I agree diaby is a lazy player who will go missing in away games to Bolton and Blackburn. My only hope now is that no one gets injured until January and we are still clinging to united, Chelsea and whoever else will be ahead of us.
aka_damo
Gilberto is fine when he has a run of games, I was always on record saying I didn't want him to go and I even said when Flamini left that I would like to see Gilberto reinstated to alleviate our deficiencies in the air and on the second ball. Diarra's purpose was bringing the best out of Flamini, Diarra also played a blinder at Villa Park and contributed massively towards that three points when Cesc was injured, as it stands there's no competition and no options if and when Cesc gets injured. We certainly missed Flamini in the Fulham match, big time, we had neither the power nor the tempo to break them down and Fulham aren't exactly powerful themselves, if we haven't got the back up/ requisite physicality to beat Fulham away I wouldn't expect too many points away from home this season. I bet most of us would love to have seen Diarra/ Gilberto play in that match, I know I would have. We've taken a risk that wasn't necessary, why should we have to wait and see, why not bulk up the numbers in there. Because the fact is, if we go to Stamford Bridge and Cesc is injured/ suspended, our pairing will be Denilson and Eboue. Do you honestly think that will win us that game? Wenger knows he's left us short in there, why else would he start with all the self satisfying "poker game" "I can still surprise you" crap. It looks very much like he tried to make a last ditch bid for Alonso, why would he have done that if he thought we weren't short? He tried to be too cute and it blew up in his face. Armory, you're right, where were those players? A little too comfortable with their positions in the team because they know they can play like that and that we haven't got the players to step in. Flamini knew at this stage last year that one bad game and Gilberto or Diarra would happily come in. As for better luck with injuries, anyone who counts on RvP, Rosicky and Diaby as first team players is taking a massive gamble indeed and one that could have been augmented with one quality addition. I take the point that new signings make no guarantees, but then why buy Nasri? Why buy anybody? They're all just a huge risk right? So what's the point? Let's sell all our players and not replace them, because we can't guarantee that they will do well, so let's not bother.
Little Dutch
I admit I was a little disapointed that we didn't sign a midfielder, and I still think we need one, but let's not get too disheartened. I know our squad is a bit small, and we have to rely on luck to a point, if we get behind the players we do have and if our injury status doesn't find its way to crisis point, we can still beat anyone in the league. We need to strengthen in January though, or we will tire like last season. This season I feel that we can rest Cesc ocaisionaly when we need to if we move Samir to the middle of the park. Our strike force is still capable of scoring a very respectful amount of goals, although I do admit we need some work in defence. However, that is down to training for now, nothing we can do. It's all up to Kolo, Billy and the rest.
ArsenalRob
By the way, I know Arsene said Alex Song's long-term future is not in CM, but do you think he would be willing to play him there sometimes this season?
ArsenalRob
This is Wenger's biggest mistake for the simple reason that there is a glaring need for a DM and there is no immediately obvious candidate. Letting players leave and hoping your kids step up is not quite a good enough strategy when we could have found seasoned midfielders up to the job for around £12m. This is an extension of Wenger's philosophy of developing players, which is great, but then they should come out and be honest about our aspirations, and say we'll have a stab at the title but we're not that hungry for it.
Andy-bayor
LD I rarely disagree with you but I think you're being far too pessimistic in this case. If Cesc ever got hurt (knock on wood) there are two players (Nasri and in the near future Rosicky) who are also creative playmakers who can easily step into that role if required, not to mention the Denilsons etc. I think you're letting the media and internet-driven hype cloud your normally impeccable judgment. The Fulham game, while it was a bad one, also happened right after the international break (when we ALWAYS suck eggs, regardless of injuries or not) and I don't read too much into it. Finally, as for replacing Gilberto... you do realise he played maybe five good games last year, and his other appearances were sh|te? His immediate replacement is SONG, who was one of the eleven players of the tournament in the African Cup of Nations earlier this year. Have faith!
devvil
Rosicky,Eduardo and Silvestre will feel like new signings toward the end of October/Nov. Bischoff, Diaby, when fit, added to cameo's by Ramsey, Wilshire, Randall, Gibbs etc. SHOULD be enough. Enough for what? Probably not the quadruple, but we can win the P/L or C/L this year because I believe that our squad has more spirit and continuity than any other in the division and on their day, play the best football. In Cesc, Adebayor and Van Persie, I believe we have 3 of the top 8 non defensive players in the league. Sure we need some luck (the sort Manure and Chavs have had during the past 4 yrs) but even with Berbatov, do you think Utd can withstand a long term injury to Ronaldo, Or Chavs with Drogba? We'll not win anything without Fabregas, but signing Alonso, Barry, Inler or Veloso wouldn't change that anyway. He's the heartbeat of our team and without him, we're average.
FAB 4
Only four months until the January window.
elbondo
I only read two Arsenal internet fan sites, both of which I contribute to. I don't read newspapers or watch SSN or anything like that. There's no malign influence on me at work, I'm stating facts here. The Sun didn't tell me we sold three defensive midfielders and didn't replace them. The manager has already said Song is not a long term option in centre midfield. Injuries to those players you mention would hurt the aforementioned clubs, but I bet they'd still beat Fulham. United lose Ronaldo, they bring in Giggs. Chelsea lose Drogba they have Anelka. We lose Fabregas we have our back up right back.
Little Dutch
The point LD is making is one which Arsenal FC deliberately avoid responding to and fans either don't get or also decide to ignore, it's got nothing to do with spending lots of money or bringing in hyped names, the point is just this: Why leave something to chance when you have the facilities to take control? Why would Arsenal do that? Why would they not replace players which are in need of replacing? Players who did a specific effective job at a consistent high level need replacing by players who can do the same job at that same high level. That is what all of this confusion and anger is about. Taking chances with failure when it is well within your power to reduce the chances of failure is counter productive and actually negligent of Wenger. The fact that so many Arsenal fans continue to respond to questions which no one is asking reveals how much they have been sucked into the Arsenal FC propaganda, because this is exactly how Arsenal FC avoid talking about the difficult issue of replacing quality players, they simply chose to answer a different question about the same old concerns over money which no one is actually concerned with.
Professor Calculus
All I can say is let out your frustration now and here because if we turn up to games in low spirits, the club really would sink to a low that has not been witnessed for years. If we get behind the team, and everything seems happy (forced happiness or not), eventually it really will be.
ArsenalRob
As for the title, the transfer window is just dealing the cards, the real game is played on the pitch and will continue until May next year. We may have pulled a shortish straw but we haven't lost the game yet.
ArsenalRob
For once I am glad the international break is here. If we had to play in a day or two then I reckon Wenger could be in for a torrid time. As it is we've got a couple of weeks to calm down and hopefully some of the more vengfull fans will have calmed down. Because while I think AW is taking a massive risk, there is no other manager for us right now. We need Wenger to see this through.
Rocky7
So what then is the purpose of all this 'propaganda' that the club is supposedly putting out? That gullible supporters are gobbling up when wiser and more perceptive observers can see that that they are purposesly deceiving us for no discernible benefit to anyone? Wenger has said he would bring in a midfielder if he could get one he felt would improve the squad. He couldn't - in his eyes one wasn't available. The club says he has plenty of money - he says he has plenty of money. he just didn't like what was available and is prepared to go with what he has. Where is the propaganda in that? What is this insane idea that somehow the club is looking to deceive it's supporters, that Wenger is habitually lying for some reason that no one can explain, instead of just simply disagreeing with some of them? Arsenal fans are often cited as being the whingiest group of fans in the country. I am beginning to realise just how true that is.
Amos.
I'll sum it up - 85% of us are *****ed off. The rest are for some reason deluded into thinking that for the 13th year in a row, AW will make a couple of promising teenagers into world class players within the space of 3 months. The difference this time, is that they are all too small. Look at the reserves last night? Where was the height and power? Yes they are all 12, but that doesn't help us now. Diaby is tall and could get powerful is he ate his shreddies but why on earth has he been playing on the left wing for the last two seasons? If we can make eboue into a CM, can't we do the same with Diaby? Anyone else wish we'd have signed Vieira?
michael105uk
Sorry LD but I do think you have had your judgment clouded by the hype going around. You may turn out to be 100% correct; but I think not. Time will tell and as you say come May we may all laugh at this article. Who knows the new Middle Eastlands team may gobble all the stars, with promises of really big Mega bucks, reducing us all to the waste lands. It will be interesting times ahead. Ces going to M.E. for 110 million pounds in January transfer now that is a worry.
alwaysgunner
@ArsenalRob. But that's not the point, we are all behind the team but the club are needlessly making things difficult for themselves. Why even think about doing such a thing let alone actually put it into practice? In a competitive environment you do not want to give your opponents any chance, I swear the rest of Europe is sighing with relief now that Wenger didn't bother to replace any of the departed midfield giants. We should not be in a position where we have to say "Everything will be alright" we should be in position of knowing that we have the best team we can possibly have and if we don't win then we simply accept the other teams are better than us, but losing knowing that the Arsenal team isn't even complete is infuriating because it's a self inflicted defeat, when we play they should put 80% before the name just to let everyone know that it's Chelsea or whoever versus 80% Arsenal.
Professor Calculus
Amos here here
alwaysgunner
Professor Calculus, where did you get your crystal ball, can I use it for the lotto? If you know who the best team is now? Can you let me know please. I haven't got a clue yet.
alwaysgunner
I think I have to agree with LD and Prof. Arsene has tried to play a dangerous game and has left us short. While I think Denilson has the potential to be a good player he is not there yet and the options after Cesc are sparse. We may be left needing to buy in January but Wenger is already on record saying he does not like doing that. Oh well, I've doubted before and had my doubts rammed down my throat. Here's hopping he does it again.
PENZ
The idea that Diarra, Flamini (Milans current right back) and Gilberto are 'departed midfield giants' that have the rest of Europe heaving a collective sigh of relief is probably one of the more fanciful notions I have heard today.
Amos.
I see the Prof's point, AW performed exactly this reaction in a press conference last week, someone asked him about new players and he immeidately rattled off about, "I know you want me to spend £30m but that's not my way." But nobody had suggested anything about £30m. There again, I don't think we're being lied to, I'm not upset about what Arsene has said, it's what he's done, or hasn't done. I just don't understand how making a squad that was slightly too weak and slightly too inexperienced to win the league last year weaker and less experienced. Nobody seems to be able to explain that to me. Saying "get behind the team" misses, or rather dodges the point too. Of course I'll get behind the team, I follow them wherever they go and give them my unconditional support at every single game. But I'm not at a game now and I think it's justifiable to ask questions here, otherwise what's the point in talking about anything that happens in a football match when you could just as easily say, "well it's gone now so why talk about it?" This isn't an issue about supporting the team, of course I support the team and largely I think the players we have are pretty good. We just don't have enough players and we don't have enough experience, I don't think it's unreasonable to question why that has been allowed to happen. Those not happy about hearing these questions asked because they are overly negative or whatever, are presumably just as hacked off with hearing the manager praised constantly for his catalogue of excellent signings because that is overly positive and it's all in the past now anyway?
Little Dutch
Wenger has said himself that we ideally are a midfielder short so why would anyone disagree with that contention? It still doesn't amount to a propaganda campaign if he can't find one he deems good enough or that we are a weak team rendered incapable of competing if we go with what we have. Many would have been perfectly happy to have spent a few million on Inler which the club can well afford yet most know next to nothing about him. The fact that the club has decided not to appease the fans by making a token purchase has more merit in it than some are willing to give credit.
Amos.
Prof I see what you mean but all I am saying is that whilst on paper we may not have the strongest squad in the country, there is no point feeling all gloomy before we have even entered the important stages of the season. True, this could end terribly, who knows we could be out of the top 4. But at the same time, this year every team is going to loose a couple of games. After 3 games (2 for man U) no team has a 100% record. I know it can be put down to being rusty but the fact is that this season no team is going to have an easy ride. If the team looses the support of its fans then we'll have a really difficult time ahead of us. If the whole club remains positive and just focus on 'beating what's infront of us' there is no reason why we can't be challenging again this year.
ArsenalRob
@ Amos. Everything is propaganda, all pictures, images and statements are designed to communicate version of how said company wants to be seen. The Arsenal FC propaganda is that they are building a youthful team based on belief, team spirit and collective understanding, they are not going down the route of big money and big names and make us aware of this at all times and that's fine because most fans support this direction and buy into it. However the elephant in the room is that Arsenal are not winning anything and a credible reason for this is that they sell too many quality players without bringing in players to fill the void and do a job now. Arsenal FC do not have articles on why Flamini, Gilberto and Diarra have not been replaced, instead they have articles on why Eboue is a pass master or why Denilson is great and so on. They edit what concerns they want to respond and then put a positive spin on that hand picked concern. A neutral observer with no allegiance to the club would ask the obvious elephant in the room question about incomings and outgoings of Arsenal players, those who don't ask this obvious credible question or feel there is no need to investigate this concern have bought into the Arsenal FC propaganda. I'm not passing judgement on anything, I'm simply saying that in any other walk of life questions would be continually raised about such an obvious topic and people would not be satisfied with a "Have more faith" or "He knows what he's doing" response, they can only be satisfied with that kind of tone if they have bought into the propaganda of something, in this case it just happens to be Arsenal.
Professor Calculus
On the other hand though, and I'm not usually one to start regretting what could have been particuarly when it comes to transfers, does anyone feel that we could have missed out on something in Vincent Kompany in DM, who has been doing really well for City? Arsene said that he had been watching him before, but was no longer interested, but at £6mil that could have helped us this year.
ArsenalRob
What hype going around? I've been expressing these sentiments for some time now, if you're talking about what's happening at City then you're very wrong. I have no interest in being part of that vulgar circus and City fans should look up what investment company actually means before they get excited. I'm not saying we need bling bling mercenaries like Robinho, I've no interest in people like that. If you want to disagree with my opinion then fine, but don't tell me I'm a victim of any hype because a) I'm not consuming any of it b) it's not arguing the point and c) it's insulting to my intelligence. These are my conclusions based on my accounts of extensively watching this team. Argue with them but please give me a little bit more credit than that. I don't automatically have to be happy with everything the club and the manager does and I think I'm asking legitmate questions that, thus far, nobody has given me a convincing answer to.
Little Dutch
My point is that if AW deems Alonso a good enough addition then why wait until the very last second to make a bid he deemed the final one he was willing to make? Why not make the bid after his first one was rebuffed so that if his highest bid gets knocked back .... which it did .... then he's got time to look elsewhere? If he feels we are a midfielder short then should he not have been trying to buy one rather than waiting till the last minute to try and get one on the cheap. I can't believe that Alonso is the ONLY midfielder equal to or better than our current player in our price range. I don't think people are whinging either (well not all of them at least) merely voicing their concerns about the team being left incredibly thin should we get an injury or two, which lets face it, is going to happen on a grand scale.
Rocky7
The thing that worries me about our lack of transfer activity is that we are usually weaker after a major championship anyway. Wenger's post season talk was of keeping the squad together and maybe adding 1 or 2 quality players. We seem to have lost depth and not replaced all the quality. I think we may have to rely on injury prone players staying fit to have the squad to challenge for silverware.
PENZ
@Amos. Gilberto and Flamini were giants for us were they not? Diarra is undeniably a quality midfielder who is the type of player Arsenal could do with right now right? All three are gone and no one was signed as a replacement. The rest of Europe watch Arsenal very carefully and as rivals they will be very relieved to learn that Arsenal have not brought in a replacement for a player who was instrumental in giving AC milan a football lesson in their own back yard, and before that a player who was instrumental in Arsenal going unbeaten all season. All rivals sleep better at night knowing that their opponent is in a weaker position.
Professor Calculus
this time last season, we complained about the squad depth and loss of TH14 and Ljungberg, we ended up with a rejuvenated flamini and a well oiled adebayor. Who knows what will happen this season? So far, we have only conceeded one and this can bee seen as defensive improvement, if we can keep it up.We have unknown qualities in vela Ramsey Nasri and Walcott. If we can keep our players fit, we will be challenging till the end of the season. All in all, every team needs luck, no matter how much you spent. If we can add luck to our style of play and squad players, we will win all we can win this season. So all i call for is luck. We need it
49ers
Honestly, who is the quality central midfielder available on the market for a reasonable price that AW should have went for. Leave some names please - let's get this once and over with. We keep banging on replacing players from last year's team which in all 'weird' circumstances finished - 4pts off te top. Hleb? We have nasri. Hoyte + Senderos? Djourou + Silvestre. Gilberto? The pecking order shifted in favor of Denilson, Song and Diaby. Flamini? Who the ***** is Flamini? Was he experienced? Invaluable? Was he held in higher esteem than Denilson/Song/Diaby? Wasn't he offered a decent and improved contract last year which he decided to turn down in order to play UEFA Cup football as a right back in a team. Was he supposed to be given a salary in the Cesc bracket? And so what if Wenger bought Alonso last night or whoever you wished for? Would the signing of this ONE player have vastly improved our chances for trophies this season and changed the tone of everyone's comments today? Would you have been more like "bring on Chelski" or whoever instead of Wenger is this Wenger is that?
G4L
It's not my job to name names, I don't have a team of scouts and I'm not paid a massive salary to scout players. That's the manager's job, he hasn't done it. Like I said, if there was really nobody available, why let Gilberto and Diarra go?
Little Dutch
Wenger identified a defensive midfield to replace flamini and a Defender who could win long high balls. We didnt need to spend 30 million on any one player to be competative. 20 million could of bought us a CB and DM. You could of picked up Yaya Toure, Inler, Muntari, veloso or Alonso for no more than 15 mil(less for the first 3). 6 million bought Kompany, what a good job he could of done. Instead we bring in Silvestre which seems like an ok move, only to let go of Senderos. If we were slightly short last year then we are even weaker this year. Overall this year we have replaced Senderos with Silvestre, Hleb with Nasri & Flamini with Ramsey while letting go of Silva, Diarra and Lehmann.
paul_ownz
Other than that. Deco for 8 million, Van de Vaart for 8.5 Million proves you can pick up good quality and experience without breaking the bank.
paul_ownz
IMO, Gilberto was (apparently) let go in order to give Denilson and Song a chance to step up, he wasn't nearly as good as he was, and he was offered a 2 or 3 year contract (not sure). Is it really Gilberto that we might miss this season? As for Diarra, it's all to familiar. HE wanted to play. Didn't matter that the TEAM was doing good it was about HIM playing and HIM being in the French Euro squad. Was AW supposed to keep him against his will?
G4L
Prof., if everything is propaganda then all these posts are just us all creating our own little propaganda extolling our own views. In which case why single out the club for simply doing what we are all doing which is putting our side of the question as we see it? If I accept your view am I buying into your propaganda or just accepting your view? Arsenal football club like all professional clubs is a business. Criticising it for acting like one and painting it in emotive terms as some sort of machievellian organisation intent on deceiving everybody doesn't take us anywhere. In fact it is a tactic used by genuine propagandists. Gilberto was a top class defender but no longer a giant. Flamini had a great season and may have gone on to become a giant and may well do so elsewhere but no, he couldn't fairly be described as a giant. As for Diarra he is no more than a decent midfielder no better than what we already have. Why let Gilberto and Diarra go? Because they would have been as irrelevant to this season as they were to the last one.
Amos.
Well AW should fire his scouts, and than resign. So many obvious choices out there, and he was stubborn and refused to spend money. Idiot.
G4L
LD I'm pretty sure that you, like most of the rest of us thought that, although there is no doubt over his ability, it was right to let Diarra go at the time. He was being a pain full stop. Gilberto had served us well and probably deep down wanted to go, although his humble exterior did not show it. I agree that we should have another midfielder, but I'm pretty sure that if Arsene publicly states we need a CM, he would be on the case. He doesn't usualy talk like that to the media. Why he waited so late on Alonso only he knows, but I can't think of anyone else available who could fill in the gap in CM better than Denilson/Song/Diaby. If Arsene did I'm sure he would have bought him.
ArsenalRob
Ok then. Someone answer this. If every year (aside from the stadium repayments & wages) we have a reasonable amount of money available for transfers and for the last 3 seasons we make a profit from transfers. Where does that money go?
paul_ownz
G4L, what obvious choices?
ArsenalRob
My prediction is that a lot of the folks pointing at Wenger's faith in the squad will be screaming and crying when Cesc has a niggling injury and misses 4 or 5 games going into January. Without him to provide stability none of our other CM's stays anywhere near composed enough to allow the rest of the team to perform. I'm not saying I've lost faith in Wenger or that he's past it, but I am disappointed as I feel this situation is due to his misjudgement.
smithdj74
paul it's all part of Arsene's policy for the 'future'. So that the next manager to come in has all the money he needs. Personally, whilst I agree with the principle as a whole, I agree that this season he should have spent where was needed. Not 20-30 million but he could have made a sigining or two more in the Nasri price range.
ArsenalRob
Can everyone please stop saying we're in a 'situation'. We will only be in a problem when we start losing games and looking truely shaky. Can everyone just calm down and look at the facts please. We may not have the perfect partner for Cesc, but we have some decent CMs and compared to other teams in the league we have a very good squad. I think we are all in agreement that our 1st team at full strength is great, although Cesc's partner is still in slight doubt, and when the inevitable injuries come, personally I feel that we have some good cover. We need a bit of luck, as if we have 4-5 first-teamers out we may be in some trouble, but if we can keep our injury list reasonable we have every chance. Remember Tommy Rosicky? He won't be injured for ever, believe me.
ArsenalRob
I'm in complete agreement with LD and I fear for this season. I don't even hope for trophies now, all I hope for is that we stay in the top 4. It very much pains me to say all that because you can't find a greater admirer and defender of AW than me. But I truly don't comprehend his actions (or non-action) this summer. It's not that I don't think he didn't try for at least one player--it wasn't only the Alonso reports, there were also reports about his attempt to resurrect the Inler deal. Felipao even said that he tried for Kalou. None of his attempted moves panned out for whatever reason. I do think he tried to bring in more players, I just don't think he was as urgent about it as he should've been. If we were a club like Wigan or Boro or Everton, then I could believe that the manager's limited resources and the club's stature limited his transfer moves. But this is AW and this is Arsenal we're talking about. I can't for one moment believe that he couldn't strengthen our squad--he did have some money to work with. He didn't need a lot. LD also touched on the hemmorahging of executive/clerical staff and I have to wonder if that has affected AW's transfer window activity. And btw, I genuinely hate to say this but AW did in fact lie: in May he promised we fans would be happy with 2 or 3 quality players he would buy in the summer; he promised a midfielder would be signed before the 2ng leg of the CL qualifier. The fact is that this team did not need a lot to improve from last season, that's what hurts. Instead of moving forward, we've gone backward. I will support the team all season long but I go into the 08-09 season for the first time during AW's reign wondering about his basic competence as a manager, and bracing myself for finishing outside the top 4.
jaelle
jaelle, irrelevent though this is could I just clear for Arsene's sake that he said we would sign a 'player' before the Twente game, not a midfielder. Rather confusingly and disapointingly that turned out to be Silvestre.
ArsenalRob
FEAR NOT! I dont understand all the concern. Arsene did say he is looking for the right player, also at the right price with Wenger. We have great players with others getting healthy. Song, Wilshire, Ramsey, Vela, Nasri, Silvestre, Bischoff, Coquelin are all new or just as good as new signings as they have never played much. Now lets hope to see diaby, eduardo and rosicky back healthy and tell me who will be able to match our team. I must be missing something! God Bless!
Paulsito
It seems to be an emotive issue but who's to say some fans aren't happy with 2 or 3 of the purchases he made: Nasri, Ramsey, Silvestre? He only said he would 'certainly' bring in a player before the CL qualifier not that it would be a midfielder. He brought in Silvestre. I can understand the sense of disappointment that some fans feel that their demands for a squad of 27 players instead of 26 hasn't been met but bandying around accusations of lies, deceit and propaganda isn't justified. Questioning Wenger's competence I can understand if that is what you genuinely believe.
Amos.
Given that we can't defend a high ball anymore than I can pull a rabbit out of my backside, and the squad is hugely low on experience, then I'd say yes, we are very low on experience. I understand the reasons for letting Diarra go, though it was a shame as I'd have been comfortable with him as first choice and felt he could have even dislodged Flamini if he had the chance. But why hasn't he been replaced? Let him go, fine. But in seven months surely we could have found a replacement? It was the very intense competition from Diarra and Gilberto that enabled Flamini to excel. Our lack of squad depth means players such as RvP, Adebayor, Gallas, Sagna, Clichy, Fabregas, Toure are guaranteed starting places. If the Fulham performance is repeated, then we cannot drop them and send a message, they all know they'll be picked again because we have no choice. Even if we don't get injuries, we don't even have the resources to combat fatigue and rotate even slightly, the same team has to play every week.There is no evidence to suggest that we will not suffer injuries, the likes of Diaby, Rosicky and van Persie are first team players, the question is what evidence is there to suggest we won't suffer a myriad of injuries again? Like I say G4L, if there were no obvious choices, why let Gilberto go? The least he could have provided was back up which we completely and utterly do not have now.
Little Dutch
I meant yes, we will miss Gilberto.
Little Dutch
OK let's talk specifics LD. Gilberto was largely useless last year, and he was such a fantastic servant to the club that when faced with the opportunity of giving him a happier retirement, we did the right thing and let him grab it. As for Diarra, to paraphrase Arseblogger, he was being a dolphin-headed cuhnt -- and was not willing to put in time on the bench earning his spot and proving himself. Would that have improved this year if he sat on the bench? No. Since our squad is built on solidarity and team spirit, having a divisive influence on the dressing room is untenable. He had to go -- and he was surplus last year anyway, most everyone thought so. Flamini? He's the one true loss of the players you've mentioned. Would any of us have cared if he left the year before? No. He got his chance and took it. Are you saying Denilson, Song, and Diaby don't deserve the same chance Flamini got? I differ with the argument that they don't deserve the same shot Flamster got -- clearly all three have the raw talents and attributes, they need to pull it all together when given a chance. Is it a sure thing that one of them will? No. But if we signed someone, would that be a sure thing? No. I do agree with you that another body in there to compete wouldn't have hurt, but as Arsene said, if he can't find anybody better or as good as what he's already got, why should he buy for the sake of buying? What situation are we in now, then? We have 4 months to give Diaby/Song/Denilson their shot at the big time. If we'd signed someone, would they have had an impact for the next 4 months? Maybe. But even a Xabi Alonso wouldn't be a sure thing. So If one of our young trio grabs the brass ring, brilliant. If one of them doesn't? We still can buy in Jan. The sky is not falling.
devvil
Amos, fair enuf re your correction about AW's comments about getting "a player" before the 2nd leg CL qualifier. But there've been too many contradictions about what AW has said since the end of last season. He said our biggest problem last season was the long ball thru the middle -- he hasn't addressed that, unless you think Silvestre is an answer to that problem. He said we are short in midfield -- he hasn't addressed that. I think he did try--but that he didn't try hard enuf. I think he's too concerned with developing the kids and affecting their self-belief and performance if he brings in new players. I "will love it" if come May we're all laughing about this discussion. Unlike the cretins at websites like le grove, I take no pleasure in any of this. Their main goal is to shout "I TOLD YOU SO!!" to those of us who've remained faithful AW supporters. That makes them happy -- Arsenal failing under AW. It gives them some kind of twisted egoboost to trash that segment of gooners they've identified as "the enemy" (the so-called AKBers). I would love to say LD's just plain wrong and needs to get a grip, that there's all the reason in the world to have confidence in this team as it is. But I just can't -- and it has absolutely nothing to do with media hype and punditry predictions. It's a conclusion that any clear-headed Arsenal supporter can reach by just watching what has happened to the team since 2004.
jaelle
Every squad has its deficiencies..chelsea are light upfront and in the wide positions..united are no stronger (in terms of numbers) upfront..liverpool don't have any depth upfront and the spuds well.... . ofcourse we are evidently short in central midefield...will we be punished for our deficiencies? Our inactivity is now more comparable to a game of russion roulette than poker..but is it any different to the game that everyone else is seemingly playing?....oh and money doesn't talk it screams...
Anon 1
My goodness, are we arsenal fans so deluded that we cant see when we re being taken for a ride. The club is being run for the benefit of board and this dovetails nicely with wenger's idiosyncratic nonesense. come to the emirates, enjoy the football, but be aware, we re not gonna win jack this season. I ll rather have a gilberto or diarra than a gaping hole in the DM position. anyone that thinks all other clubs will wait whilst we develop the players is seriously deluded. I will boo AW when the s**t hits the fan and i dont care what anyone else thinks about that. rant over!
arsenalhomme
Spot on LD. In fact, i will go one step further and say that I would have been disappointed even IF Wenger had signed one more DM, as we are short on numbers. We have lost 10 1st team players, replaced them with 7. Thats atleast 3 short of last season when we needed to ADD to the previous seasons' numbers. No one can say for certain that Wenger has got it wrong, but it looks very likely that he has. We might perform very well in the next few games (I think we will) but the likelihood if it all catching up with us in Feb is very high. Either Denilson or Diaby need to do a 'Flamini' which doesnt look likely at the moment. The squad is lighter and less experienced than last season ! Also, I dont buy the argument that Wenger didnt find anyone - he had 3 months, a world class scouting department. Its shocking that he cannot find ONE player in the DM position who is suitable to play for Arsenal FC. I'm very disappointed with the summer activity of Arsenal. And for those shouting for us to get behind the team - I will, but it still doesnt stop me from disagreeing with what the club is doing !
prits
This is how I see it as far as comings and goings this year (with rose coloured specs admittedly!!) Hleb - 6/10 productivity replaced by Nasri 8.5/10 (at least!!). Flamini 9/10 effectiveness replaced by a combination of players who collectively were a 5/10 last season, but who AW expects to step up to something close to Flamini's value to us this season. Again I defend AW in so far as NO ONE on this site would have stumped up a pay hike to 80k a week to keep him at the START of last season. At the point of Diarra's departure it was too late, Flamini had decided to look at other options and signed for his boyhood dream team. Gilberto 6/10 effectiveness. Ramsey, Denilson and probably even Eboue will not do wosre than Bert on his bad days, which were becoming much more frequent. Our collective but inexperienced replacements will not be much different. This was not the Gilberto of 2004, the 2007 version is a mythical figure in some people's minds once we let him go. Lehmann 6/10 effectiveness. Almunia 8/10. If you don't think Jens was a liability on corners and set pieces during the last 2 yrs, you weren't watching very hard. Hoyte 5/10 effectivenes. Gilbert is back. can't see him being any less effective. Diarra 1/10 - ****. We don't need dickheads like that at Arsenal. I'd take Eboue over that pr!ck any day. Denilson will be better long term. Senderos 6.5/10 effectiveness. Silvestre 7/10 for added experience. If he is long term injured, we will be worse off. Eduardo 7/10 effectiveness. He will be back and save a broken leg, will be a 9/10 this season. Van Persie 5/10 effectiveness. ditto for Eduardo. Rosicky 3/10 effectiveness. Ditto for Eduardo. Overall, compared to what we KNOW NOW about last season, we aren't too much worse off. If we get the type of long term injuries we had last season, we're screwed, but so would the other big 4 teams be too. Overall squad experience and effectiveness 6.5/10. This season, 8/10. Hopefully that makes the difference.
FAB 4
@Amos. Propaganda is not an accusation or dirty word, it is an inevitable product of any orgainsation with an agenda. Arsenal are no different. I think that Wenger is a logical guy who respects facts, based on what has happened for the past three seasons I think it is totally justified for some fans to become disillusioned with the direction Arsenal have taken. The togetherness, team spirit and belief project was shattered or at the very least undermined last season by key departures and let's not forget that Ade wanted to leave regardless of how Wenger reinterprets history. I'm sure Wenger would understand why fans are so anxious right now.
Professor Calculus
I cant see how anybody can argue in favour of Arsene not buying anyone - assuming he's serious about challenging for the title. We started last season with 3 men in midfield - Hleb, Rosicky and Cesc - 'men' meaning heavyweights who can provide leadership and authority. With Flamini we didn't know what to expect and he surprised us, becoming the 4th 'man' in the process. We are now starting the season with 1.5 or 2 men (depending on how you see Nasri) plus a couple from Denilson/Eboue/Theo etc. It's not going to happen this season - barring some miracle of course. Like the title says - this poker game looks well lost.
Andy-bayor
Andy, tell me Hleb was a heavyweight. C'mon, just b/c he's gone, don't make the mistake of making him out to be something he wasn't. Nasri is 2 goals and 2 assists from Hleb's entire contribution last season. And of the 3 'heavyweights", only cesc delivered. Flamini was the next most effective and he was nothing at the beginning of last season.
FAB 4
Hleb wa a fantastic player. He didnt get lots of goals and assists but he linked up play very well. He often started moves, runs, held up the ball, sucked in fouls. He was a tw*t how he went about his move, but he was still a great player.
paul_ownz
I liked Hleb as a player - very much. It is a shame he has gone but the club can't do more than replace him and so far from what I have seen Nasri will more than do for me. The only beef is that we MAY not have adequately replaced Flamini but no one can say for sure yet. Maybe one or a combination of the players we have available will be an effective replacement. There is no guarantee that anyone we bought in would adequately replace him either or that said player wouldn't get injured in the first few games anyway. The time to decide that is at the end of the season. There is the nub of much of what I see as at this stage a somewhat hysterical over reaction to an unproven belief that Flamini hasn't been replaced. Sure we may fail to win anything this year. That was always a possibility no matter how much money we did or didn't spend. We weren't firm favourites for any of the trophies anyway and frankly I don't see that we are any more or less fancied now than before the transfer window closed.
Amos.
wow LD, lot of emotions in there in the article. well most of the points you make are valid. the only thing i can say in defence of Arsene is that he knows his job better than all of us. the reason he didnt replace the experience of Gilberto and Flamini is cuz he has too much faith in Denilson, Diaby and Bischoff and expects all our injury prone players to have a lot of good luck with their fitness this season, which we fill find out over the course of the season. and secondly, i garuntee you, i'll even bet my life on it that he will surely sign a central midfielder in january. thats a certainty. maybe he wants to give these fellows a chance till january and see how they progress, and go and bring some experience in in january that will help the team in the second half of the season and rectify what went wrong in the second half of last season..
luckys_10
And personally i expect Denilson, Diaby & even Ramsey & Bischoff to step up to the plate, if not for the entire season, then atleast till January. And the reason we were so pathetic at craven cottage was not just because of lack of quality as many people think so. i think it was more down to the attitude of the entire team. even after going behind, they all were expecting to win it easily. Denilson we all have seen in the previous two seasons what he is capable of. the lad is a fantastic player. he looked poor at fulham because the entire team wasnt upto to the plate. and Diaby, i really hope has an injury free season from now on so he gets a proper chance to show us what he really is capable of. And Eboue in all the games he has played in the centre has looked pretty damn good, and if he has to do the defence duty when playing alongside Fabregas, i wouldn't be worried..
luckys_10
i agree there is a lot of pressure on Fabregas, but the boss is wise enough to use him wisely this season and make sure he as a injury free campaign. and i'm damn sure we will make a signing in january, just like how we did back in 2004. Arsene is still the best manager we've ever had and i've ever seen and i just won't doubt his judgement before the end of the season. remember how United won the title in 2007 with such a thin squad. our squad maybe looks thin on paper, but there is enough quality and even numbers in there to challenge for the title and the cl. i only wish that Rosicky, Van Persie & Diaby have a laregely injury free season which i'm sure dead sure this time around they will, cuz nobody can be so unlucky with injuries, and we're on our way to bettering last season. And we have enough experience in there, cuz don't forget how close we got to winning it last season, and that experience and the pain of coming so close will spur our lads and Arsene on even more to go one better this season. our time is now, and i fully expect Arsene's army to reign supreme again..
luckys_10
and i would like to add one last thing, if you look at all the teams who have won the league title in the last few years, they have all had good luck with injuries. we didn't have too many injury concerns in 2004 and even in 2002. so if it is our year, then definetly our luck with injuries and other things will be a lot better..
luckys_10
I don't think we're more inexperienced than last year except in 2 positions, the positions occupied by Flamini and Hleb. In every other position, the playes havd had a season more experience. Also Gilberto doesn't have the legs to get around, our current crop of DM will do much better job than him. As with Diarra, you can't keep a player who doesn't want to stay. I'm not saying AW is perfect, he is a human being, he does make mistakes. But to criticise him so early in the season when he has done such an an amzing job for us in the past is silly. He has said he wanted a more experienced midfielder who is of better quality than what we already have. Obviously he hasn't found one despite his best efforts. I doubt he was being lazy and not trying, he is too passionate about the club to do that. This must mean he rates our current set of midfielders very highly. Also we have got replacement for Cesc if he is injured in Nasri and Rosicky as others have mentioned. I'm glad there are a few sensible posters on here like Amos, i just can't believe there are so many pessimistic doubters already. AW and the team deserve better supporters.
jubair
Looks like LD's ploy of reverse psychology has worked.
sunaadh
then again, I'm probably taking a shot in the dark..... much like AW.
sunaadh
The fact that most of the people whose opinion I normally agree with on here are all, like me, feeling concerned by our predicament makes me realise that I myself am not overreacting in the despondency I'm feeling. Frankly, I've lost all hope of Arsenal ever really being serious contenders for the PL or CL for the forseeable future. Two seasons ago, even whilst Henry was playing his last season with us, I looked at our side and thought, wow, we're on the verge of something extrordinary here. We had Henry, Rosicky, Hleb, van Persie, Gilberto, Cesc, Gallas, Toure, Clichy, Lehmann all on the same side. Mark my words fellow Gooners, it'll be more of the same this season: we'll play beautifully, everyone will love us, and we'll almost win something only to fail by some small margin.
Gooner_Vin
By the way, the fact that the Club or Arsene hasn't come out with any kind of comment/statement on the official website is ridiculous.
Gooner_Vin
gooner-vin - comment/statement ? what were you expecting a full blown press conference to declare that we hadn't signed anybody :)
u-man
In fairness to Wenger , last year who exactly was Flamini when he had to fill Gilberto's position? I suppose this season there is no Gilberto to rely on but in Wenger's eyes there is probably a player capable of covering that position. At least wait for a month?
Gunners
I agree the "Gunners" we should wait to see where we are in a month's time, we must not forget that manure, and chelski have drop points already.
hackneyval
Basically - we're gonna win sweet Fanny Adams. Or maybe we'll squeak the Carling Cup? Woo-hoo. Our aims will then be as lofty as the pitiful Spuds.
Moorish
For the last time, questioning the manager doesn't make you a bad supporter. For my part I am going to Bolton, Blackburn, Kyiv, I'll sing every player's name and applaud them off at the end of the game. If someone can give me a better of definition of support than that then I'd like to hear it. But basically, I am going to refer to a point put forward by the Prof at the very beginning of the comments. If somebody told you on May 31st that Flamini would not be replaced and that there'd be an article on arsenal.com lauding Eboue as our new midfield enforcer on September 1st, would you have been happy? Just be honest with yourself, would that have made you happy at the time?
Little Dutch
Very good article. I cant see Arsenal being much of a threat in all competitions, but there is a possibilty of a cup, maybe carling or fa.
Sam_Imp
Probably no happier than if we were told on May 31st last year that arguably player of the year Gilberto would be relegated to a handful of appearances and Flamini would be our midfield enforcer. To be fair though a better comparison would have been if we were told that Gilberto was to have been replaced by Song. A season later that would be a far more acceptable solution to many than it would have appeared then.
Amos.
FAB4, Hleb was definitely a heavyweight last year, though like Amos says, Nasri looks a worthy replacement. The problem is when you imagine Theo and Denilson, they don't project solidity and broad shoulders. If there was good reason to be nervous about our squad at the beginning of last season, then this term it looks far worse with so much inexperience. If Rosicky was fit and playing I would feel much better despite a lack of depth. All this wouldn't be so bad if we weren't trying to win titles! Arsene will have to answer questions if the calls he made this summer leave us way short. Anyway, I'm nearly done being upset by the stubborn professor, because it's all done and dusted now. One of my most abiding and gut-wrenching feelings of last season was being in the stands at OT when United beat us - I just hope we don't get many repeats of that kind of thing this year.
Andy-bayor
Flamini's early season form was due to the level of competition from Gilberto and Diarra, he knew that one bad game meant he would be ousted by either one of those entirely capable players. What competition is there now? Diaby's persistently injured, Song will not be considered for the role long term. That leaves Denilson as first choice with Eboue behind him, if Cesc gets injured, we're left with Eboue and Denilson, that combination, as well intentioned as both players were that day, wasn't good enough or powerful enough away at Fulham.
Little Dutch
My real point is that we just don't know. Whatever motivated Flamini even if it had more to do with future contracts nobody would have foreseen the contribution he did make and could be happy about it this time last season. Maybe Diaby will be persistently injured maybe he won't. Song doesn't have to be considered for the role long term in order to play a role this season. Maybe Denilson will perform as well as Flamini did over the season with the desire to retain his place in the face of possible competition from Diaby/Song and even Eboue. I have said before that the midfield problem at fulham wasn't the central pairing. Gilberto and Diarra in combination last season were worse than Denilson and Eboue have been. Injuries to any of the key players will give us problems just as an injury to Cesc and Flamini gave us a problem in having to play Gilberto and Diarra in tandem. In reality we weren't really any stronger then either.
Amos.
I have been reading all the comment here and i dont think i can add much...needless to say i am dissapointed that AW didnt think to strengthen...the fact that the tried and failed is maybe evidence that he "knew" there was something missing in the midfield..which bring to mind the position we have been knocked into by AW/Arsenal board...we have been made to look like a "small" team..i mean how hard can it be to get a quality DM? just ONE...Denilson/Song still have some time before they can lay claim to that position...well all in all if this "experiment" by Wenger works, i.e. if we win the CL or PL (or both) then he would have propelled himself to the stature of a fooball god...if however it fails...the he will look totally silly and will only have himself to blame...this season to me is Wengers biggest ever gamble. We can only watch with bated breath
number14
Injuries to Flamini and Fabregas did leave us short, as seen in the results at Boro and Newcastle. That means we were too short then, so now we're even shorter? It took two injuries (not including Diaby, who is perenially injured and has been his whole career to date) in midfield for Gilberto and Diarra to be our pairing, it'll only take one for Eboue and Denilson to be our pairing. As I write Diaby is still three weeks away from resuming training, so will not be considered surely until after the next international break. In the meantime we have to slot a right back in who has zero experience of playing central midfield. An easily avoidable situation with just one sensible purchase. It's simple, you lose one you replace one. You lose three, surely you replace AT LEAST one? Why not sell Adebayor and assure everyone that it's o.k, because we're going to play Eboue upfront? It makes just as much sense as losing three midfielders and telling everyone it's ok because Eboue will play there. In the meantime, that means Walcott is a definite starter on the right wing when he is patently not ready. Denilson, Eboue, Walcott is hardly an imposing enough midfield to handle a tough away match and we only have to lose one player in reality for it to happen.
Little Dutch
Plus, we're not counting on just one player "doing a Flamini." Denilson needs to "do a Flamini", Diaby needs to "do a Flamini", Song needs to "do a Flamini". Walcott is first choice on the right wing, he also needs to "do a Flamini" and prove he's up to it and become tougher and more consistent. Eboue has to "do a Flamini", the fact that he will be played out of position for the second consecutive season points to the paucity of our squad.
Little Dutch
Interesting that a fair amount of you are talking about Nasri replacing Cesc should be become injured/need a rest? No chance...
shewore
And why not? shewore...IMO he should be able to from wht i have seen...anyways i think we can do without a cover for Cesc if need be...Rosicky, Diaby can do just that...Wenger was never looking for anyone in that postion too
number14
As Wenger himself said that we could do with another midfielder there is little argument that we don't have what he hoped for but it isn't a numbers problem and overall not weaker than we had last season. All the midfielders have to perform better this season. Why shouldn't we not expect them to? Who's to say that Inler for example would be any better or any less injury prone than any of them? It depends on how the entire midfield is set up. When Wenger tried to explain Eboue's role in the defensive make up of midfield is was treated to hoots of derision by his detractors but measured objectively he was right. Contrary to the myth the central midfield pairing against Fulham wasn't the problem. They outperformed Bullard and Murphy on any objective measure. Most would prefer to have Diarra in midfield to Eboue but this season Eboue has made more passes, passed more accurately, more incisively, gained more assists, won possession just as often, and (yeah ok) had more shots on goal. It isn't an entirely fair comparison as Diarra's games included matches against ManU and Chelsea but it does illustrate that his stats are good. He is performing at a high level comparable to many who claim it as a 'natural' position - whatever that is. So far he has performed as well as Gilberto did when called upon last season. Are we then really weaker for the departure of Gilberto? I am not making a case for Eboue in front of Denilson, Diaby or Song for that matter but he can clearly step into the shoes Gilberto wore last season. Just as so far Denilson has stepped into Flamini's shoes well enough not to fear that all is collapsing around us. We still have other options injuries permitting. I can understand the concern about the midfield options but they aren't as threadbare as you might fear.
Amos.
But again, I'm not sure those comparisons are entirely fair, Diarra and Gilberto's games were bits and pieces. But Diarra played crucial roles in away wins at Villa, Blackburn and Sheffield United as well as a home win against Wigan. Relative to the amount of games he played that's not bad at all. We may have statistically had more of the ball than Fulham, but they didn't do anything with it, Fulham sat Murphy and Bullard in front of the back four and we had neither the power nor the guile to penetrate them, as evidenced by the poor service to the strikers and the consequential lack of opportunities created. Contrast with Villa away last year when we were missing Cesc and Diaby, Flamini scored one and Diarra created the other goal in a 2-1 win. Both Diarra's assist and Flamini's goal were bought about by power that Eboue and Denilson cannot offer as a pairing. Gilberto has always been a player that requires a run of games, once he got them when Flamini got injured, he played much better. I would be much more comfortable with Gilberto than Denilson or Eboue as regulars, particualrly because Gilberto helps to solve the massive problem we have with high balls, Gilberto is aerially dominant and it's no coincidence that him losing his place coincided with this problem occurring regularly. He was never quick, so loss of pace isn't an issue, he's one of those players that I think could have easily maintained a high level into his mid 30s due to his intelligence and economical play. Much like Makelele.
Little Dutch
I agree with the benefit that Gilberto's height lends to the defense of high balls but it wouldn't have been solved retaining Diarra. I am less convinced at Gilberto's ability to be any more relevant than he was last season much as I valued him. I have always felt that players like Makele can only play the way they can at the age they do, in a team that is set up primarily to defend anyway. I doubt that he or Gilberto any longer could economically get away with what we ask our midfield to do in the way we play. Though dealing with high balls isn't only about height if we find ourselves having to defend against those tactics, as and when Diaby is fit maybe he or Djourou could provide that extra height in midfield or maybe it's enough with Djourou in defense. I see the potential problems but can just as easily see that there are potential solutions. I am not disagreeing with the contention that we don't have all the midfield answers any more than Wenger is but I really don't see that a failure to add to the numbers is quite as apocalyptic as some have suggested. There are options that will still enable us to compete. Football is so unpredictable that we may neither be entirely right or entirely wrong. But even if we do ultimately fall short for want of numbers there is still plenty to enjoy in a season and enough time for me to work on an explanation if you are proved right.
Amos.
Im hearing rumours of Appiah coming on a free transfer. This would be a very good move in my opinion if it happens. 27 years of age, experience in italy & champions league.
paul_ownz
yeah Paul, that would be a good move both for him and for us. Atleast we'll have a physical presence in the midfield. lets hope it really does happen..
luckys_10
 

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