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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Changes, experience and defining Success

As the journo`s are forced to postpone their obituaries following our win against ManU which confounded claims that the Wenger era had run it`s course the man himself had been quite open about in his pre-match conference about the current state of the team and it`s prospects.

He admits that the departure of Flamini has changed the team but rather than simply replacing him things are played differently now.

"I don`t deny the quality of Flamini but he wanted to go. I didn`t want him to go" he said prior to the game. "Today, we do it in a different way and we have to show we can be just as efficient.

"I think Denilson had an outstanding start to the season, he is going from strength to strength and Alex Song can play that role too."

Some see that process of change, of doing things differently, as affecting Fabregas` game but Arsene doesn`t see it that way.

"Personally I don't see any drop in his performance,' he said. "At the moment that's what people say, but I don't believe so.

"I believe he is trying even harder but once you become a leader like him and the team doesn't win, you are the first in the spotlight. Before, it was Patrick Vieira. When the team didn't win, it was Vieira... and you forget about Fabregas. Now he has a lot of responsibility and as soon as you don't win, it's 'Oh, it's Fabregas. He's not as good as before.' I don't think so.

"He will get a few more [goals], don't worry. That is as well linked to the success of the team, and to confidence."

The departure of Flamini and Hleb has left us short on experience. In some games more than others that inexperience has led to a few too many poor decisions. You could see that yesterday in some of the decisions made at times by all the younger players but Cesc, Denilson, Bendtner and Walcott in particular. That process of making the correct decision is down to experience as the more you face similar situations the more automatic your responses become. With that experience you are likely to take the right choice more often than not. But Wenger argues that success isn`t wholly dependent on experience and that if other qualities didn`t play a more determining role we`d be relegated.

'You are right that if the result at the end of the season will be based on experience, we will go down, because every single team has more experience than we have.

"But I don't believe that success is linked with experience. It is linked with desire, with talent, with intelligence. You can be intelligent at 18 or 20 and you can be stupid at 30."

The experience that does matter he tells us is held within himself. "I rely on my experience, I know what is important for the team to do. I stick to what I believe is right and I am quite relaxed about that.

"In any career you have moments that go well and moments that go less well. You are not God when everyone says you are and you are not miserable when everyone says you are. The truth is somewhere in between.

"Of course any opinion about football can be right. That is something you have to accept even if you are 30 years in football. Someone of 20 can have an opinion that can be right.

"I accept that but I also have some principles I know are right because they work and I will keep even if for example someone says in November 'you should buy him`. Even if he`s right what does it help you? You are in November and you cannot buy before January."

No doubt to the consternation of many supporters he says that he won`t necessarily buy in the January window. That we should judge the team in May but that even then his yardstick for success may not be one that satisfies all fans of the club.

In responding to a question that the current squad is not good enough he answers "At the moment I am always answering questions like this, But I tell you come back in May and we speak about it.

"I believe in this team and I believe in the strength of this team and I have always to answer questions that the team has 'failed'. We make a balance in May." He said as he continued to explain " I believe that this team personally is very strong and recently they don't get any credit. But it's a good moment for this young team to grow together, show resilience, show strengths and an opportunity to be a strong team in the future.

"Good players can always help you but I believe at the moment I have good players here. I do not want to focus on January and I am not sure at all that I will buy.

"The solution is not always to buy players. The solution for me at the moment is to trust the players I have because I trust their strengths and I trust their intelligence, so let's show it."

Much of the pressure on Arsene`s management over the last week or so has been founded on the failure to win a trophy in the last three seasons but that isn`t the only measure that he will apply when assessing his own and the teams performance come the end of the season.

"A trophy is important because you want people who care about the Club to be happy. I do not say it is not important but what does a Carling Cup trophy weigh compared to the fact that you play in the Champions League again next year? Nothing.

"There are always two decisions at the end of the season that you make. One, what you achieve and what other people see as success and failure and two, your own examination.

"Did I do the maximum points with this team, did I achieve the maximum with this team? Sometimes I think I could have done better because I made some wrong decisions, sometimes no."

That philosophical attitude might not sit too well with some but is perhaps reassuring to others in that it doesn`t indicate any immediate end to the Wenger era either.



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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday November 9 2008

Time: 12:32PM

Your Comments

Can't you win the carling cup and play in the champions league?
k_chelski
Chelsea are probably the only club with enough playing resources to stand a fair chance of doing both. The rest have to prioritise.
Amos.
I think reaction to these comments will be much better simply because of the result against ManU. Wenger isnt saying anything new, only re-iterating what he has always said before. However, one part caught my eye - "for example someone says in November 'you should buy him`. Even if he`s right what does it help you? You are in November and you cannot buy before January." - This line perhaps indicates that he also sees some flaws in his squad, but there is no point talking about it now, coz it will de-motivate the existing players. Or maybe, I'm reading too much into it ;).
prits
I have heard this before in previous years. Comes May, whatever happens he will say we were close, need not to buy, will be better next year and i trust my players. Wenger is good at manipulating the press. The deficiencies exposed at Stoke are still there. We are just lucky MU don't have a Delap and are too proud in their tradition to play the long ball. I thought we'd do well against the top 4. What is hurting us is the Hull, Fulham and Stoke of this world. Fine victory yesterday but I am not convinced.
Gael-Force
One simple question: If we played Stoke again next weekend, would we have a better chance of winning? I doubt it.
Gael-Force
I belive if we played like we did yesterday stoke would still have scored those 2 goals.......I think we would have scored 4 or 5 though.
iceman10
A better chance of winning against Stoke - no but then we already have a very good chance of winning against them. Learn to deal with Delaps party trick and take the chances as well as we did yesterday and they don't offer any real threat. We shouldn't get carried away with the result against ManU but that equally applies to the result against Stoke.
Amos.
i thought bendtner worked very hard on saturday, did anybody think so too?
gooner_till_i_die
Yes I thought Bendtner worked hard and kept running until the end. His timing and execution was poor on occassions but his understanding and ideas were good. Lacks match sharpness I'd guess but there is a very good player in there that I hope we will see before too long.
Amos.
Agree with Amos on both points. (a) As the boss said, you aren't rubbish when everyone say you are. You aren't god when everyone say you are either. The truth is somewhere in between. (b) I also thought Bendtner worked hard, the ideas were there, but some of his decision-making and finishing should be improved and at this age he will. I'll be very interested to see how he works with Vela (best partner for him so far it seems) against Wigan in CC. Ooh and Aaron and Jack in midfield!
GoonerLou
I thought Bendtner was very lazy at times. Vidic and Ferdinand passing it round and he just walks round. He should be chasing down all game. He was also poor on the ball. I am one of his biggest fans but he was pathetic yesterday.
Tom14
There's an old saying that good judgement comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgement. That could be Arsenal's motto right now.
Little Dutch
Its funny, if we had lost, we would say its over this season but we win and we still are not convinced we are good enough and still have no chance. I'm convinced!!!! If Wenger plays djourou against stoke and has some of RVP, Nasri, Walcott on the pitch from the start, we would have won. That team played narrow, we had no blalance - its not just down to the players but team selection to me.
Paulsito
Brilliantly succinct LD. That sums up exactly what the team is going - or should that be growing? - through at the moment.
Amos.
Also, solid game by Gallas, as a defender and captain. Ensured that we didnt panic like we did against Spurs. Its funny how we dont give him any credit for such a turnaround in the team's approach and spirit and are quick to criticise when things go badly. Not a single mention of Gallas in todays arseblog. Only re-inforces my belief that he has a bias against Gallas, for reasons not completely rational.
prits
He did play for chelsea you know, and Sylvester (his spelling) played for Man Utd, that is reason enough for us to hate them me thinks...
Tom14
I honestly thought both Gallas and Silvestre had a great game. I haven't seen so much willingness and determination at the back for some time. The entire back four did their fair bit of heading which we didn't see as much before too. Everytime we defended a free kick or a corner, I got nervous. But even towards the end in the 6 min injury time (6!!), I was quite amazed to realise I was feeling okay - something that hadn't happened for a long time.
GoonerLou
This doesnt look good for the January transfers...
nevidimka
If they continue to play like this consistenly, why do we need transfers ? Give this set a chance now, if they cannot make the grade, then yes, Wenger needs to sign someone new. But looking at an excellent performance negatively purely from a transfer perspective is well, negative.
prits
Agree Lou, in fact, I just commented on the other thread on what an excellent game Gallas had, as a defender.
prits
Amos, why can't you sign more squad players to beef up your team? Players like Appiah and Mineiro are there for that. You sign Appiah and you keep Senderos, you have two more quality players.Why is Wenger unwilling to sign these experienced players?
k_chelski
As I understand it he had the opportunity to sign both Appiah and Mineiro but decided they weren't good enough to get in in front of what he already has. Having signed Silvestre, with Gallas, Toure and Silvestre to pick from either one of Senderos or Djourou were not going to get a game this season.
Amos.
And why do you think Ramsey was signed? And why do you think Vela was brought back? Options. This squad has more options than Chelsea I feel but the overall experience/quality is lower. One DM would have been ideal and perhaps a top class right midfielder but otherwise we are fine. And Denilson has been in the top five players for us.
Tom14
If you have that many players, why can't you compete in three or four competitions?
k_chelski
We can and do compete in all competitions but there are teams that will commit greater resources in prioritising the Carling Cup for example than we are prepared or able to. Chelsea is unique in having the largest squad of experienced first teamers - hence a wage bill almost 50% as large again as Arsenal or ManU.
Amos.
We have a large squad because are players get injured all the time.I doubt we'll ever have a fit squad.Well, anway, the point I was trying to make is that by having some experienced squad players like Apiah and Mineiro, you could emulously challenge for the cups. I don't know if it's mind games, but wenger's quotes suggest you won't win anything.
k_chelski
You can only really plan to win a league. That's what we are attempting to do though realising that we are probably 3rd in terms of financial resources with which to do so. Thats just where preseason bookies had us - as third favourites. You can't really plan to win cups because there are so many variables in any knockout competition. The luck of the draw, injuries, refereeing decisions' penalty shootout lotteries, just the simple run of the ball in any one game can all decide the outcome that's why in recent times the domestic cups often feature the smaller teams. Even with all there resources Liverpool and Chelsea couldn't guarantee results against Barnsley in last seasons FA Cups for example. So bringing in players like Appiah and Mineiro just to improve your chances in a knockout competition is a bit like buying a lottery ticket. Not exactly a complete waste of money perhaps because your number might just come up but the chances are relatively small. Better to use the resources you have to invest in your squad for the future.
Amos.
No way was Bendtner lazy. He worked his socks off as a single striker against the best central defence in Europe He was like Adebayor last year, trying to prove himself and thus working hard to get the ball. A bit more experience and he could have scored a hat-trick.
AussieGooner
You can invest in a squad as much as you want, if you don't win trophies, they'll leave.Flamini did, hleb did.Let's say Denilson turns into a super star next season, and you still don't win anything then (this is just hypotheses, I'm not claiming anything).It's true that you are playing Champions League football every year, but so are Barcelona, winning trophies too. They need a midfielder, Denilson is a great one.He feels he won't win anything at Arsenal so he leaves.Now you have to nurture another great youngster into becoming a start, instead of just buying a proven midfielder.
k_chelski
The reason that you invest in the squad is with the aim to win trophies. But if all you win are the Carling or FA Cups and fail to qualify for the CL those players you speak of will want to leave anyway. Your argument has been that if we invest in a bigger squad we'll increase our chances of winning those domestic cups which are irrelevant to your hypothesis anyway.
Amos.
Last season you lost the league because your players got tired.Wenger didn't bet on youngsters (besides his main team). Your team got tired, and you lost the league.If you had a squad with players that can play in both the cups and in the league, you'd do better.If you had three extra player (premiership level ) last season, I think you wouldn't have lost the league.
k_chelski
Nothings guaranteed. Chelsea had twice the squad of any team in the PL and didn't win anything last season either. A bigger squad has to be better but you can only live within the resources you have. Unless you can bring in the right player(s) just adding numbers won't neccessarily take you anywhere. The domestic cups are just a developing ground for us. Buying experienced players just to enhance our chances of winning one of them won't increase our chances of winning either of the main two prizes or achieving a CL place.
Amos.
but he was pathetic yesterday. Tom14 - How can you honestly say that with a straight face, that Brendtner was that poor? The game I watched from my end of the ground, he was very good and just his finishing leaved a lot to be desired.
LondonGooner
Not directly, but winning a domestic cup will keep the players happy, thus , less likely for them to switch clubs.
k_chelski
 

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