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Wenger asks: Why so negative?

Five defeats in 17 league games is bound to engender an air of despondency amongst many but Wenger feels it is overdone. Conscious of the impact on his young side when speaking prior to the game against 'boro he expressed his view that the scepticism is overdone.

"Why should we be infected by this? If there is a doubt, there is a doubt," said Wenger "Everybody can doubt your ability, but what is important is that you believe in your ability and show it on the football pitch.

"I believe that with such a young team, the minimum you can do is to be behind them, be proud of them and help them.

"To always ask them if they are good enough - personally, I don't think that helps the team. It is the first question that I have been asked since the first of July to the first of May.

"I don't know why we are always in that negative culture. In every single press conference it is exactly the same. We have not to be affected by the scepticism around the team."

Perhaps with thoughts of the disappointment created in the summer Wenger refused to take questions on his transfer policy, which for some is the source of the current discontent.

"In England every problem is sorted out by buying a player when you lose a game. We have a team where most of the players are 20 or 21. OK maybe we haven`t had the consistency until now, but we are not disastrous.

"We have 29 points and are in the position to come back. Instead of saying let`s believe in these players everybody says you have to buy five or six players.

"It is difficult to get any rationality into the analysis that we face at the moment. We are qualified in the Champions League but I am speaking as if we are absolutely nobody."

After a game in which we dropped two points against Middlesbrough the manager was unfazed preferring to focus on the next contest though he appears aware of the negative atmosphere apparent in recent games, particularly at the Emirates.

"You want always to get more but I feel my team needs more encouragement because they don`t get it anywhere and that is why I want to focus on the next game."

Claiming signs of improvement he feels that some progress in teamwork can be seen as he explained in his post match interview

'We have a better defensive balance, are more a team but just lack that extra thing that comes with confidence. This is a young team that is under a lot of pressure at the moment and that is why it is important to keep belief.'

The Premier League seems set to be a tough competition this year with Liverpool and ManU also dropping points yesterday and no one opening up too big a gap at this stage. The Gunners have their work cut out over the next 21 games to stay in among the leaders and little can be taken for granted by anyone.

The teams in the past have had periods where results have not gone their way and confidence has ebbed away. Though a four match losing sequence in 2002 remains Wengers longest it heralded a strong finish to the season in which we finished 2nd. Two seasons before we managed to lose 8 league games and still finish a creditable 2nd. Maybe there was more of a big two then instead of the big four of the present but it was probably easier for the team to come back from such blows to their confidence then with experienced players than the current crop of youngsters.

Once lost confidence is hard to regain especially among younger players less assured of the extent of their own talent. Wenger needs to work hard to instil this sense of belief and there seems to be few avenues of support for him. In reality it has to come from the team itself. It`s possible to see the effect a goal has on our play if we go in front as play becomes more fluid. Sadly we can also see the doubt that creeps in if we relinquish that gain. That will only be bridged with a positive sequence of results. Some comfort can be taken from our results against ManU and Chelsea a sequence against the top clubs that we will seek to prolong when meeting Liverpool next before we face another current top four side in Aston Villa.

It`s time for the team to think positively. Some positive vibes from elsewhere wouldn`t do any harm either.



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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday December 14 2008

Time: 10:54AM

Your Comments

Action is eloquence, time for the talking to stop. I'm sick of the talking, the vibes surrounding the players will always emanate from what happens on the pitch. Yes, booing players and getting on their backs doesn't help, but the manager can't demand blind faith on tap. The quality isn't there so the belief isn't. For me, the players have little right to ask for anything from us, at Porto every single player bar Eboue, yes Eboue, tried to walk off without acknowledging the support before the manager had to usher them back, yesterday only Gallas, Bendtner and Clichy came over without having to be told by the boss. Though the fact that Wenger is now telling them to go back (which he has never done in the past) is an acknowledgment that bridges need to be built. I support this team and encourage them, that's unconditional. But do I believe in them? No.
Little Dutch
Curious though to see how other fans deal with that issue of belief. Some Spuds fans can be accused of unreasonable levels of belief and Citeh fans are pretty upbeat at the moment as are Villa. Is that because they have more overall quality at present than we have? Or just a mindset based on a different level of expectation? I believe in the development of the club and this team. I didn't expect to win the title this year but I expected us to compete and while we aren't presently competing as well as I hoped we are still competing. There is an air of negativity around the club at the moment. Maybe that's natural given what has been achieved before but I have the feeling that positivity will return only after we have experienced genuine failure.
Amos.
I think your correct Amos and to be honest I think without additions in January that genuine failure will be a far more balanced Villa side ushering us into the UEFA cup. As much as it would hurt we have to get out of the comfort zone as a club, the AGM was a telling moment for me seeing Wenger and the board trumpet that champions league qualification was some sort of trophy was hard to take. We need to start reaching for the stars again, not with star names but with a competetive squad that means you have to perform to stay in the side.
iceman10
I tend to agree with Iceman here, I certainly sense an air of complacency throughout the whole football club. Belief is not something one can demand or request, it's either there or it isn't. For me, it hasn't been there for me since September 2nd and the reason there is an air of negativity is because it was all so avoidable. We seem to be making things hard for ourselves and I cannot fathom why. Is it arrogance? Complacency? Or ineptitude? I don't believe it's the latter, more a mixture of the first two. It's seldom that I really imbibe the words of radio pundits but someone, and I don't know who, said on the radio straight after the match yesterday, "for the first time I think Wenger has it wrong, he thinks his young players are better than they actually are." Bingo.
Little Dutch
The young players are certainly less consistently better. Maybe the performances in the CC this season and in reaching the CC final season before last weren't quite as good as we might have thought they were at the time. The young players have the quality. The dependence on them has gone further than we might have reallt wanted. Maybe Dein was right. We should have gone for the Wembley option after all.
Amos.
I don't think there's anything wrong with the model we have followed per se. The trust in young players has gone too far now and that has been unnecessary, this team is a couple of additions away from the real deal. It is the reluctance to add those two, maximum three additions that is so frustrating and unnecessary.
Little Dutch
Is there a reluctance though? Wenger said himself he wanted to add one experienced midfielder in the summer and apprarently tried unsuccesfully to do so - and that was when he was expecting Rosicky back in September - another mistake in hindsight. Seemingly there wasn't any reluctance but, whether understandable or not, certainly a failure of objective. I'm sure he'll try to put it right - when he thinks he can.
Amos.
In regards to the experienced midfielder would it not have made sense for Wenger to have kept Gilberto until this deal happend? Maybe only loan out diarra until Flamini actually put pen to paper? We were so close and still are I believe to being a genuine challenger again but we have to start reaching for the stars (not stars as in players) and stop making do with what we have.
iceman10
I think it stems down to having a stubborn manager. While its right that he sticks to his guns so to speak, it doesnt hurt to at least hear what everyone is saying. It must be obvious to even Wenger that we lack wingers. It is naive to think you can go through a whole season with just nasri & walcott without either picking up an injury, especially letting go of Traore aswell. He himself identified that we need a CB & CM and then changed his mind. If he said himself last year we were just short of winning the league because we were unfortunate with injuries, why not rectify that. Instead we have two long term injuries & let go of more players than we brought in. And its right as fans we question if players are good enough, when you go week in week out to see someone like Bendtner who shows no improvement....
paul_ownz
Gilberto wouldn't have played much this season. We don't have as great a problem, or one at all in central midfield - not one that a 32 year old Gilberto would have solved anyway - as we do in the wide areas. Would Diarra have solved that problem? Certainly not in Diarra's mind if he were forced to play wide.
Amos.
an of topic question for you all too. I want to create a classic arsenal side on pro evolution 9 of players i have on rememeber . 1st team - SEAMAN, DIXON, ADAMS, CAMPBELL, SANSOM, PIRES, VIERIA, ROCASTLE, MERSON, HENRY, WRIGHT subs - LUKIC, WINTERBURN, KEOWN, BOULD, LAUREN, OVERMARS, GROVES, PARLOUR, THOMAS, BERGKAMP, SMITH, OLEARY, Not sure of - K CAMPBELL, LJUNBERG, KANU, WILTORD, LEHMAN. Any more i might of missed out. I been watching them since 87 or so.
paul_ownz
I dont know if the players are not as good as Wenger thinks because they seem to disprove that when they play the big clubs. I do agree that complacency has set into the team "real bad" and I also think the Gallas situation has caused more of a problem in house than we think. There is just a disconnect currently and it is more than the eyes can see. For the first time though I am seriuosly questioning Wenger, He says our young players are good enough and then he leaves vela on the bench last week in favor of an unfit, out of positioned Eboue! Then yesterday it was evident we needed someone who could break down the defence on the wing and here come bendtner who seems like he couldnt score a goal in shooting practice at present (he was decent) low and behold Wilshere and Vela are quite comfy on the bench. Another thing, why do we have to wait so long to put in a sub and why only one change and leave the same players on who are being ineffective? are we trying to hold onto one point now? aaaarrrrhhh! Players are also being played out of position, a Mid with Song, Fab, Denilson, and Diaby is a joke - the players are good enough but without Walcott and Nasri the team is unbalanced and again Wenger does not trust Vela.Wenger must buy some experience or trust the youngster, or both. The team played slow yesterday, no vision to see players in better positions, errant passes and back passing, no sense of urgency and no creative thinking from our manager, everything was bland. On a good note Sagna, Ade and Fab were great. Come on Arsene you are the captain, right the ship. I do believe our team is good enough but there is something very strange going on!
Paulsito
Paul, I agree Wenger needs to listen a little. I also think that Arsenal as an rganization need to do something for the fans. A fan appreciation day where the prices are cut and the players great and thank the fans publicly. Its a shame that players have to be told to thank the players after a match. No wonder people are booing(I dont agree but there is a lot of frustration) these players are filthy rich and dont seem to realize that it is the fans that make them rich and not Arsenal.
Paulsito
Amos, Gilberto would have been fine given a run of games. People were too ready to write him off last year but he had no chance to put a run together. If you genuinely think we have no problem in central midfield then I will respectfully disagree. I think it does work better when we have 1 genuine wide player which means either Diaby, Denilson etc tucks in to make it more of a 3, but for me a genuine top quality central defensive midfielder would make this team so much more balanced.
iceman10
Gilberto had a run of games at the end of the season when Flamini was injured and played very well. That said, I am now more comfortable with Denilson playing that role, but doing away with Gilberto before signing a replacement was very irresponsible. A wide man has to be the priority, a central midfielder after that. Experience a must in both, the manager keeps identifying a lack of maturity, it would be criminal not to address that.
Little Dutch
People are negative because this team, as is, IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Even Arsene must know it, in his heart. He worries about 'killing' the youngsters by bringing better players in - well boo-hoo! Some of these kids have had plenty of chances and, sadly, just aren't good enough.
Moorish
I'm just a little annoyed with this kind of talk, as Wenger takes it to the extreme, again. We are not 'absolutely nobody', just a team thats struggling to challenge. Expecting a challenge isnt unreasonable, as I'm not clamouring for a trophy and I certainly dont believe that a lack of one spells doom. The negativity is directly a result of the performances on the pitch, as the team has flattered to deceive on several occassions, not just once or twice. Wenger says a young team needs more, but why this team needed to be so young is a question that only Wenger can answer.
prits
As for the team, the balance will come with better players out wide. Thats been the huge problem. I dont think Song has been that bad, and has been doing an adequate job at DM. Denilson works his socks off every time and I'm quite happy to see him in the playing 11 (even at RM) although a better option would be nice. I think this team can get away with one central mid fielder out wide, but not two.
prits
Personally I think it is great when Wenger takes this contrarian approach at his press conferences. Sure there some exaggeration for the sake of emphasis (not EVERYBODY is asking for 5 or 6 players) but it is a balance to the panic currently afflicting some of our support. The kernel of his point is usually on the right lines. Though many will be ruffled at his refusal to join in the funereal wailings the day he starts to cower in face of the pressure is when the game is really up.
Amos.
I do appreciate Wenger's position, though. He cannot afford to say anything negative about this team or its players, as I believe that the mental strength is fragile. Criticising them will make things worse. Also, we need these players to perform to the best of their abilities till Jan, the earliest time when things can be fixed. Telling Theo, Eboue or Diaby that they arent good enough at the moment isnt going to improve their performances during Dec.
prits
I think that's right prits. There is no need for him to focus on the negatives when so many are doing such a good job of it for him. His role has to be to focus on what we do well, individually and collectively, and getting the players to do that better while working on the weaknesses. If he can take a poke at the herd instinct and encourage some to think a little deeper in the process so much the better.
Amos.
I dont know why anyone would say Theo is not good enough. I think he has been very effective this season and improved his game 10 fold. He is dangerous everytime he is on the ball and causes defenders problems. His decision making could be betetr at times, but the improvement so far will only get better.
paul_ownz
Gutted we dropped points on saturday, but not annoyed. That's 1 more point than we took there last year. But the performance was a bit frustrating, and we certainly got lucky with the other dropped points from the Mancs, Scancs, and planks. But you can see the confidence is noit very high, and as a result, the telepathic nature of our fast passing is missing. The players just don't seem to know what the other players are doing half the time. I've also noticed how we bomb down a wing, get stuck, pass back out, bomb down the other wing, get stuck, pass back out, or put in a shocking cross. Occasionally we pick the lock, but not nearly as convincingly as we would with a little more confidence. We also don't help ourselves with the ridiculously zippy passes that are often to fast to control on the receiving end. But I think our fragilities are being heightened by our lack of confidence, I really do.
ChaosTeaCup
I'm not so sure it is a lack of confidence, we went into the game having beaten Chelsea and Wigan. I think it's a lack of trust, the players just don't trust one another with the ball and as a result, nerves take over whenever a pass needs to be made, hence the over elaboration and some of our midfielders holding the ball for far too long. I think this is why Cesc's form hasn't been nearly so imperious this year, every time he got the ball last year, he knew he could give it to Hleb or Rosicky and run forward knowing he'd get it back further up the pitch. Now, every time he gets it he doesn't trust our other midfield players in the same way, every pass he makes is usually aimed at RvP or Adebayor, but that makes us easier to crowd out. You could argue it's down to a lack of chemistry in the midfield and there would be some truth in that, but players aren't that stupid, a lack of quality is what it really boils down to.
Little Dutch
Same thing, LD. Lack of confidence in their own and other's ability. It hasn't been there in all our games this season, but when we come up against a team who we know is going to crowd us out, we get stuck.
ChaosTeaCup
We might have gained some confidence from the Chelsea game but nothing at all in the circumstances of the Wigan victory - quite the opposite I think. Confidence does play a significant part in our current form or lack of it. You can see some of that quality when we go one or two up and suddenly passes are played with the right weight and more positive tempo and decisions look a little more assured. Sadly that confidence is still so fragile that when we concede a goal as we did against 'boro the fear and doubt returns almost instantly. All our players, though some more than others of course, have the quality I am sure of that. They lack the experience and in some cases the physical development but not the quality. Whether they get the chance to show that quality depends on us finding a midfield balance that works consistently well. As yet we haven't managed that this season because that balance just isn't available in the squad unless it is totally injury free.
Amos.
I still have my doubts, the players don't look as though they trust one another's quality and the defence really isn't good enough for us to achieve the scenario of going two goals clear too often. I think we have good players, not great players. Is Song as good as Gilberto was? Is Nasri as good as Pires was? Is van Persie up to Bergkamp's standards? Is Adebayor a match for Henry in his prime? Is Gallas as much of a rock as Campbell was? Is Toure as good as Toure was? Is Almunia a patch on the Jens of three years ago? Is Bendtner as effective a back up striker as Wiltord? Is Diaby as decent a back up midfielder as Parlour was? I think if we're honest with ourselves, the answer is a resounding no in most cases, are these players as good as their counterparts at Chelsea and United? Do they gel together as a team in the same manner? I don't think so. Even in the couple of years transition it took to put together the Invincibles, one could sense the quality was there but the harmony was a work in progress. Some of the current crop might reach the heights of their mentors (though I'm doubtful in most cases), but put simply, this current Arsenal squad isn't a patch on its past incarnations and I think deep down, we all know that.
Little Dutch
You could ask the same questions in a different way. Was the 21 year old Gilberto then playing 2nd div football in Brazil as good as the 21 year old Song is now? Song isn't as good as the 28 year old Gilberto of the invincibles but then neither is the Gilberto of today. Was the 21 year old Pires then playing for Metz as good as the 21 year old Nasri? He may have been but he certainly wasn't as good as the 27 year old Pires who joined Arsenal who we are comparing Nasri too. It seems silly to compare RvP with a legend like Bergkamp but the 25 year old Bergkamp then playing for Inter wouldn't have been quite such a shoe in in front of the 25 year old RvP - at least not in the eyes of Inter fans of the time. Is Adebayor as good as Henry in his prime - how many were or will ever be? I could go on - the 20 year old Wiltord? The Ray Parlour of 1994 wasn't the player he became. This current squad isn't yet worthy of comparison with the best teams of our past or the present teams of Chelsea or ManU though neither of those last two sides had been able to better them this season. You can doubt their experience, certainly the teamwork and maybe their sense of self belief but quality? Our belief in their quality changes with results - only a short time ago absurd claims were being made about the kids that beat Wigan in the CC.
Amos.
Thinking about it, i would say this has been the most difficult season i have had supporting Arsenal. And from that point of view i realise how lucky i have been. Been a fan for 20 years, but it didnt really affect my life for the first 8-9 years. Since then its been good times throughout. The double in 93, the cup winners cup, the first premiership we won, 2 doubles, unbeaten season, 10 years of champions league football & final, FA cups, league title wins at white hart lane & old Trafford, players like Henry, Bergkamp, Wright, Vieria, breathtaking football etc etc. Wenger has given us such high expectations we assume he can keep pulling another rabbit out of his a**. Has not quite worked for him so far this season, but i am confident he will turn it all around.
paul_ownz
You argue a good case, Amos. Very few teams will compare favourably with the invincibles. That was a one-off and will never be repeated and I think comparisons to that team will always be unfair to the current ones. That doesnt change the fact that this current squad is not good enough to challenge for the League title. Just that the standards used to evaluate their quality shouldnt be a direct comparison to the Invincibles.
prits
Here's how I'd answer your questions, Amos.
A 21 year old Gilberto was not good enough to play in a team ostensibly challenging for the premiership and the Champions League, and so it came to pass that he wasn't playing in a team ostensibly challenging for the Premier League and the Champions League. He was playing in the second tier of Brazilian football.
The 21 year old Pires was not good enough to play in a team supposedly challenging for the PL and CL. And rightly so he wasn't playing in a team supposedly challenging for the PL and CL.
And so on and so forth.
The current squad may not be of the level of their predecessors, but that is not even the point. The point is that Arsenal Football Club should have a team worthy of being compared to other past teams that have competed for and won trophies. Because that is our level. 60,000 capacity stadium. One of the best in the world and one with the highest matchday revenue in the world. The whole godamn world, Amos. Annual turnover north of 200M pound sterling. Worldwide fan base of untold millions. World class manager. World class training and medical facilities. Rich, rich, history going back the best part of a century. That is our level Amos, and that is the level we should be playing at, or at the very least genuinely endeavoring to play at, which we clearly aren't doing this term. Is there any reason why we shouldn't be doing it? Not in my eyes, and the "reasons" the manager will give us are self inflicted problems in my view (inexperience, naivety, the sort, are self inflicted if you ask me), and therefore not acceptable.
If I go to a restaurant and the chef makes me a world class gourmet meal, I have every reason to expect to receive similar quality next time I go there, and if the chef serves me a crap meal, I will not accept reasons such as "I didn't put enough salt" or " the fish wasn't very fresh" or "the guy who cleans the dishes didn't do a very good job of it". Why the ***** didn't you put enough salt? Why the ***** wasn't the fish fresh? Why didn't the dish cleaning guy do a thorough job of it?
The bottom line is that we are putting out a team that isn't capable of competing at the highest level, and the causes of this malaise are basically self-inflicted, just as not putting enough salt or cooking rotten fish is essentially a self inflicted problem. And that, the fact that we as a club are having to sleep in the bed we made for ourselves, is the primary, maybe even primal, reason for the negativity.
We are a big team, make no mistake about, but we are playing at a level way below us, for no apparent reason. Coz although Arsene Who? is stubborn, he is nobody's fool, and he knows where we are weak and need improving. He went as far as saying so himself back in May, why he didn't address it is beyond me. Am I convinced he couldn't find the players needed? Not in a million years I'm not. Not with his football contacts, his scouting network, his sheer knowledge of the game and it's present practitoners, I don't buy that story. Not from the man who gave us Eduardo and Sagna. And don't let me start writing that list now.
I'll echo LD's words here, I support the team, but I don't believe in it. The scintillating victories over Man U and Chelsea just flatter to deceive.
Gaga
Why so negative asks Arsene? Eeerm because we are paying the highest prices in England for a season ticket only to watch an unbeatable team dismantled and replaced with a group of above (just) average kids on the same salaries as genuine super stars during this period EVERY fan could see what was going wrong and what needed remedying, yet well where are we? 7 defeats before Xmas a team that looks a shambles at times and most others cannot even be bothered, oh and as LD mentioned players that can't even be bothered to acknowledge the people who pay their vastly inflated and much undeserved salaries. They treat us like a bunch of w ankers and then he asks "why so negative?" I think the manager has treated us fans very poorly this season, with several statements against us and asking questions of us and to keep knocking us when we turn out in our droves for matches and pay through the nose to watch our show ponies, I mean players prance round the pitch like a bunch of fairies is yet ANOTHER attempt to deflect attention onto us and away from the rabble assembled on the pitch. Are we doing well compared to most teams? Yes. Are we doing well for Arsenal? Most certainly not. The whole thing is b ollox and I for one am getting sick fed up of the obvious and glaring deficiencies in our team and the very obvious options open to sorting them out ie: not playing to CM on the wings and other incredibly stupid looking tactical decisions. Maybe Arsene needs to look at himself and ask questions instead of us…….
LondonGooner
Or I could ask you a question myself
. What should our expectation "reasonably" be?
Some teams hope to avoid relegation. Is that our level?
Others hope for mid-table obscurity. Is that our level?
Others for top half of the table. Others for the UEFA cup. Others for CL football. In any shape of form, as long as its CL it's CL. And others hope for trophies. The PL. The CL. The FA cup. The CC. And they do win them too. Man U are the reigning CL and PL champions. They won the PL the season before too. And Chelsea won the PL's before the ones won by Man U. And some CC somewhere.
I'd venture to say that we belong to the high table. And we are not seated there right now. And it gets my goat.
Gaga
Back in 2003 work stopped on the development of Ashburton Grove as Arsenal had hit a cash flow crisis. We had a turnover of just £91m and were posting pre tax losses of £22m. It would be almost a year before work restarted. In 2003 Abramovich bought the virtually bankrupt Chelsea, brought to their knees by spending on the Chelsea Village development, and distorted the transfer market for a number of years. With that financial background we still had to go out and raise another £360m in 2003 to finish the development. We have still to finish it but the last financial year was the first in a number where we generated a reasonable return for all the investment of the previous 8 years. Just one years decent return so far. If you want to understand why we don't yet have a team with the equivalent of Gilberto, Pires, Henry, Vieira, Bergkamp you first have to understand just what we have been doing for the last 5 years +. The good thing is that now manage the situation properly as we are doing and another team equivalent of the invincibles could yet emerge. Nowhere near good enough for the 'want it now brigade' but a decent position to put ourselves in nonetheless.
Amos.
Amos, the "want it now" brigade can take a running jump. But what about the fans with the "can we at least compete at the top level?" attitude, myself included. The fact we cannot buy top players is fine with me as long as we compete and don't have the manager patronising us in nearly every post match interview after yet another abject performance. That’s what *****es people off and that is what *****es me off. The finance behind the Grove is inconsequential to me and others as we understand how that leaves the club financially. The manager and the player are badly letting us down and none of them will accept responsibility for that. The manager says they are ready to win and next week, they lack experience and will lose games it is just utter bollox and it gets on my thrupennies. The board says one thing, the manager another and the players just won’t shut the **ck up and leave their football to do the talking instead of bleating to the press every 2 days.
LondonGooner
The ages of the players I mentioned are irrelevant, the point is that was the team we had then and this is the team we have now. Whichever way you slice it it's not close to the side of four years ago. Gilberto isn't doing at 21 what Song is now, but if Song goes onto become the player Gilberto was, do you think he's gonna be at Arsenal at 28? He'll be in Spain or Italy quicker than you can say 'spondoolics.' That's the culture we have created at the club. I understand the financial restrictions of the new stadium, but could we honestly absokutely 100% not add to the squad in the summer? Are our financial restrictions so dire that we are precluded from having a single player who can play on the right wing? Would one more player over the age of 23 have crippled us so? The frustration is that we could have had a team competing for the title with a couple of sensible, reasonably priced additions, instead we have made it difficult for ourselves. Back in 2005, I was fully supportive of the youth project and the transition, last season it really started to bear fruit. But now we are right back to square one. Compare this season to 2005-06, it'slike groundhog day all over again. Whatever the reasons/ excuses, this team and this squad has declined in quality. Maybe it's because I rate Wenger's ability so highly that I am so frustrated. Amos, you ask who is as good as Henry in his prime, I'mold enough to remember people asking in 1996, "who could ever be as good as George Weah?" Wenger had discovered the ultimate striker- until he found Henry. People asked, "how the hell do we replace Overmars?" He found Pires for a snip. People couldn't get their heads around how we'd replace Petit then along came Gilberto at a reasonable price. I'm beginning to think the Wenger of today would have sold Vieira in 2001 and told us all Steve Sidwell could do his job and that the loss of Overmars could be offset by Jerome Thomas.
Little Dutch
-------I'm beginning to think the Wenger of today would have sold Vieira in 2001 and told us all Steve Sidwell could do his job and that the loss of Overmars could be offset by Jerome Thomas Little Dutch ------Im not thinking that LD, I know he would and then call us all negative and not supportive enough because we said he was talking rubbish! lol
LondonGooner
"We have 29 points and are in the position to come back. Instead of saying let`s believe in these players everybody says you have to buy five or six players." Arsene Wenger------------No, people are saying you should buy 2 or 3 players and the fact that you do NEED to because your team is rediculously deficient in all major areas of the pitch and the age? Well that is your fault also. So sort your **it out before moaning about what "everyone else" is saying. man this guy thinks he is the 2nd coming of Christ or something.
LondonGooner
The more of this I read the more right I think Wenger is. The negativity is astounding. The understanding almost non-existent. And not much 'rationality in the analysis'. Of course we don't have the team now that we had in 2004. We didn't have it in 2003 or 2005 either even though the players were essentially the same. Should Wenger have added to the squad in the summer? Why would any raise the question the man said himself that he wanted to? That he didn't may not be excusable in some eyes but it is at least understandable. Why don't we have a squad today as good and as developed as ManU's and Chelsea's? Because ManU have been able to spend £500m more on it over the last 10 years and Chelsea a similar amount over the last 5 years. What we have done and are doing while ManU and Chelsea have been spending gives us a chance of doing so in the future. And an absolutely incredible achievment it is but only history will enable it to be seen that way. For the moment we are still competing. Not as well as I hoped but not nearly as bad as some would have you believe.
Amos.
I see the point, I really do. I just think that post could have been cut and pasted from 2005. The incarantions of 2003 and 2005 were also much better than we have now. This is the worst Wenger team there has been, whatever way it is sliced, I can't think of a good reason for that. Again the extreme of "we can't spend what Chelsea and United can" is true enough, but does that mean we can't spend anything at all? Negative? Yes. The truth? Yes. Like I say, I bought the vision of the future in 2005 and 2006 and watched it nearly come to fruition in 2007, then we knocked it down and decided not to bother rebuilding it adequately, but rather patching it up. A bit like syicking a bit of sellotape over a broken sole on a shoe.
Little Dutch
Amos - The way you 100% defend the club against all wrong doing is just as astounding. lol I also do hope you weren't including me of not understanding the goings on at Arsenal in your asessment? And no, we are no competing mate, actually yes we are, but with Villa for 4th place instead of building on a reasonable season last year we have gone backwards massively. That isn't misunderstanding mate, that is reality. The club isn't skint.......
LondonGooner
This time last year 1st with one defeat. Today 5th with five defeats. There is no denying that.
Little Dutch
That he didn't strengthen IS inexcusable when the squad was clearly unbalanced and short on numbers. From a "great" manager, paid millions and millions a year to have the best interest of my club at heart, that IS inecusable.
LondonGooner
I am not defending the club at all simply understanding what has gone on and is still going on. Could we have cut and pasted this situation since 2005? Absolutely right we could. Take a look back and see what the policy has been since 2005, earlier even, consider the context of the clubs history in which it was forged and you'll see why that is the case. Are we really spending nothing at all? And who is arguing that the club is skint? Isn't it possible to understand any part of this argument? Compare our total player budget, transfer and wages, for those 3 years and no one other than ManU and Chelsea has spent more. Our policy has dictated that we invest it in a different way. Now think of the context in which that money has been spent. Still don't get it? Then Dein was right. He said the fans wouldn't stand for it. Fortunately though other views prevailed. History will look a little more favourably and with a little more rationality on this period in the clubs history.
Amos.
The fact is the whole club has been crap from top to bottom this season and that is reality. Why can they not admit that they have made the mistakes they have and stop patronising us supporters. Now tell me, wouldn't you like that? I don't think the question of me not understanding is the problem, maybe the explanaiton and point you are making isn't very clear, accurate or comprehensible Amos?
LondonGooner
My point is that so little needed to be done in the summer and it wasn't done. We didn't have to spend billions, we didn't have to break with traditions or values or any of this prescribed stuff. All we needed was a couple of sensible purchases, no massive break with policy or breaking the bank was required. We were told we were at the beginning of a transition in 2005. That season, Wenger's words were, "we know that sometimes we pay the price of experience with points." Then last year it all looked like it was coming together, as I didn't doubt it would. But now are slapbang back in 2005-06 and we could have at least taken measures to prevent that being necessary. Is this the policy we now have? Two years of struggling for 4th, one title challenge followed by two more seasons of transition, before asset stripping the team again? Irrespective of club policy, tradition, finances etc. The club was top of the table 365 days ago having only just suffered a first defeat. We are now 5th on the back of 5 defeats, it is impossible to deduce anything other than misjudgements in management, because that is an undeniable bona fide decline off the back of what was looking like a steep improvement.
Little Dutch
It seems not LG. It is much easier to make the point that the whole club has been crap from top to bottom and that everybody has made huge mistakes in not winning a league title this season that all rational and objective observers confidently predicted we would win before the season started. Those that really want to understand where we are and why will do I suppose but then where's the fun in that?
Amos.
Little may have needed to have been done in the summer but that doesn't mean it was easy to do. Though in some ways maybe it was. All the fans needed was a player or two, even if it wasn't what Wenger ideally wanted, just to appease them. It is still coming together in my view. Paradise Postponed not Paradise Lost.
Amos.
I refuse to believe that in three months Wenger could not find two players that would have come to Arsenal at the right price. I acknoweldge it'snot an easy job, but it's his job nonetheless. I have sympathy because we were so lacklustre in replacing Dein and Edelman, either way, the club dropped the ball this summer. I agree, it's not a lost cause, but remedies are required in January, the evidence of that can be seen in the littany of dropped points this season. January isn't the best time to do your shopping in football, but that's the price you pay for not doing it in the summer. I imagine with Gazidis and Kroenke on board, a littlemoving and shaking could be on the horizon in the market and hopefully it will sifficiently ease Wenger's workload to be able to do it. I hope Gazidis and Kroenke, without being intrusive, inject a bit more purpose into the club because it wreaks of complacency to me right now. The stadium was an awesome vision brilliantly executed, I just get the impression the club isn't kicking on enough from there and is resting on its laurels.
Little Dutch
I would think the easiest job in the world is to find two players to come to the club at the right price. That doesn't neccessarily solve the problem though. Some things were taken for granted in the summer, Rosicky for example, that would have been different with hindsight. I expect the club and the manager to make mistakes. It's what people do and makes them much easier to understand. In the true context of the club though they are small mistakes that can only be rectified, or attempt to rectify, when the opportunity allows. The big decisions that really matter they have got right. Does that make the whole club crap from top to bottom? Or that anyone is resting on their laurels? Or simply the normal slings and arrows of outrageous fortune?
Amos.
You're talking to the wrong person in one of those respects. In the long term, I don't believe in luck.
Little Dutch
Amos. Losing Gilberto, flam & Diarra without replacing. Having only 2 natural wingers and allowing traore to go on loan. Identifying the need for a cb and letting go of senderos for silvestre. Having the 12th best keeper as your number 1. How many of these oversights should we find acceptable? Kompany for 6m, appiah on a free, a bid on valencia? Im sure there was a good deal he could of made within his budget. Too much faith in what he had and stubbornness in my oppinion. At least if your going to have faith and promote players like vela and wilshere you have to play them rather than 4 central mf
paul_ownz
I think Wenger's in between a rock and a hard place. He'll very much know what players he wants to bring to the club, and which players have a real future at the club. But because of financial uncertainties he now has to balance those needs. I'm pretty certain the plan is not going quite according to plan, both on and off the pitch. Take for example the Highbury developement, supposedly part of it was to be ready and occupied in August of this year, but from what I can see (and I can see it from my flat), neitherr of those things have happened. With the credit crunch looming, and at 400grand for a 2 bed flat, only the very brave/rich will be buying those flats. Therefore I think you are all wrong, and you are all right.
ChaosTeaCup
Annother thing: Do the BBC revel in Arsenal bashing? At the risk of sounding paranoid, they certainly seem to love it when our chips are being p**sed on. I mean, is it really frontpage news that Fio Retardnand doesn't think Arsenal can win the title? I mean, on one hand it's stating the obvious, on the other hand, what genuine title contending defender is going to write off his own side?
ChaosTeaCup
At the last AGM in November the HS development was still pretty well on plan. Only two cancellations were received and those some time ago. The development is supposedly 90% sold though we won't know until the end of the year if and how much effect the current slump has had. At the last report there were upwards of 50 flats unsold. They may have to carry those for a year or two though the fall in sterling will make the flats more attractive to overseas buyers. It isn't the best time for the club to unwind this side of the stadium project but it shouldn't be too damaging from what we have been told so far. Wenger doesn't have unlimited funds but compared to the constraints since 2003 the brakes are coming off gradually. The money is there. The overdependence on youth players will not be repeated to anything like the same scale in the future. As for the BBC and Ferdinand most pundits and opinion will go with the way the wind is blowing - most fans do too. I find it more interesting to listen to those looking the other way - they'll be the ones seeing things differently.
Amos.
Certainly the brakes will eventually come off financially, but looking at the club now compared to this time last year it's not difficult to see why there is such negativity. This time last year we were top, the baord had agreed the lockdown and appeared to have fought off the neon claws of Usmanov and Dein, the team really seemed to be coming together and the manager had just signed a new contract. Twelve months on, none of these feel good factors are there. That multiplied by the drop in performance on the pitch is always likely to lead to negativity and understandably so.
Little Dutch
That dolphin headed loyal-less moaner is on his way to real madrid. Still wish we had him though
paul_ownz
We miss Hleb and Flamini - in my opinion equally as much as each other. They don't even get regular games for their new sides. So it turns out Flam was a mercenary, and Hleb was too soft. Not exactly qualities that we like to associate with Arsenal (though the soft one is one we can't avoid), and yet, with those two players still with us, I think things would be a lot different. I'm chatting nonsense now. Time to dhut up.
ChaosTeaCup
What's REALLY annoying is that with last season's side, we'd be creaming it, as the other top teams don't look great either. Right I'm really going to dhut up now.
ChaosTeaCup
Those factors that gave reason for feelgood optimism last year are for the most part still there with the obvious exception of league position. That we lost Hleb was down to the new reality of player contract law and it effects everyone though the richer you are the less it effects you. But we have a young side that will get better. Our financial position is recovering and at last benefiting from the 8 years of the stadium development. So increasingly we can add to that team better than we have in the past. The manager has a contract that runs until 2011. The board is stable and has at last done something to enable us to develop the commercial side of the business to the benefit of the club and team. Plus we are competing, albeit not quite as well as we hoped, but still competing and performances will improve. It doesn't look as though we will win a title that most realists didn't think we would win this season anyway. That's plenty of reason to be disappointed, very disappointed even, but not negative. There are many positives about the clubs future prospects.
Amos.
You know me, amos, I'm not interested in negativity. I get plenty of that elsewhere. But I am getting frustrated, if only because the level of our performance at the moment is giving the naysyers too much ammunition. I mean, even Spurs are playing better football than us at the moment. That's depressing.
ChaosTeaCup
Frustration I understand, disappointment I understand, negativity I just don't get at all. Performances will get better. I watched the replay of the 'boro game and for a brief period just after we scored the performance looked very encouraging. Conceding a goal then sapped our all too fragile confidence. Things still need to be fixed but they are fixable.
Amos.
Walcott has been ruled out until Feb, which with Arsenal means end of feb - early march, possibly mid-end march. With Nasri the only other decent alternative, a winger must be high on the list of possible transfers (if we get anyone at all). 20 million for Ashley young and lets be done with it.
paul_ownz
20 million for Ashley Young!?!?! No, no, no ,no..... There is a credit crunch going on - we should try for 8 miliion, or leave him alone. 20 million. That's cra-a-a-zy. Only Spurs would pay that much for him.
ChaosTeaCup
Is it because Ramos supposedly wants Young that we would have to put in a competetive bid? That I understand, but my feeling is that if we're looking at over 10 mil then we won't get him. Mind you, reports also indicate that Ramos wants Bentley at Real - the same Bentley that Ramos didn't really like using at Spurs.
ChaosTeaCup
Bentley at Real?! Watch him go there and profess to his love for them from a young age, how all his mates are ST holders etc etc... think the 20m comment for Ashley Young was very tongue in cheek, be nice though, eh.
shewore
Amos, what has happened in the last five years is of no relevance at this point in time. Here's why.
If what you're driving at is that money for the stadium is limiting our abilities in the transfer market, I think you are plainly wrong, because everyone from PHW to DF to AW keeps telling me how the extra income from the new stadium (when compared to highbury) is not only enough to repay the annual asks for the loan, but there's some spare cash from it too. As in if our annual repayments are 10 bob, then the extra revenue from the new stadium is something like 12 or 15 bob. If anything, the new stadium is giving us an extra 2 or 5 bob every year to spend. If this was 2005, I'd buy the story, because the money is tied up, and the new stadium hasn't started bringing in cash. And in 2005, you'll notice that the majority of fans were ready to bear with the "transition". But this is 2008 turning 2009 in two weeks, we are three seasons into our new home, and that argument does not hold any sway any more.
Gaga
You're not thinking it through Gaga. Sure we are 3 seasons into the new stadium but we have completed only 2 financial years. The first of those we made negligible profit because of costs associated with the competion of the stadium. Only in the second had we made a significant profit but the whole stadium project also includes other property developments that haven't yet been completed for which costs had/have still to be settled. The team we have now isn't the product of just one years decent profit it is the product of 5+ years constraints. In 3/5 years time the team we have then will be the product of more liberal financial policy as a consequence of the completion of the project and the benefit of those income streams. The income was always going to lag behind the completion and the development of the team was always going to lag behind the income. It really isn't that difficult to understand it just amazes me that more don't grasp the simple financial reality of what we have done and are doing.
Amos.
The truth is somewhere in between. The club will make a lot more extra money from the stadium in one or two years (thats how close we are to financial solidity). As of now, things have almost settled down from a financial perspective but we're not quite there yet.
prits
Isn't that what I said? The money we make over the next year or two will build the team of 3 to 5 years time. The team we have now will grow through natural development and acquisition but todays team is the result of a dependence on a youth policy rooted in the financial reality of our investment priorities of the last 5 years.
Amos.
So why does the board publicly exclaim that we would have £30m to spend on one player if Arsene wanted it? Cold truth is, Arsene treats the money like it's his own, you can put this spending off for as many years as you want, just can't see it being spent and reinvested in the squad.
shewore
I understand the financial implications, a lot of people do. But they did not preclude Arsene from buying at least one more reasonably priced player in the summer, the money was there to do it and Wenger has an unrivalled ability to acquire reasonably priced players. I can't fathom a reason that he didn't do it.
Little Dutch
Wenger tried to spend the money and failed. He couldn't get the player(s) he wanted. It wasn't the inability or reluctance to spend that is the fault this summer past despite the constraints of previous seasons. The money was there and is still there. It hasn't been blown on some makeweight. For most fans it is just enough to spend the money on anyone. Many still think as examples above that he should have bought Kompany or at least signed Appiah. Even though he has specifically said he didn't want either. There is no point spending money just to appease fans. The reality is that the players available that would genuinely improve the team are few and far between. Wenger said himself that he wanted to sign an experienced midfielder this summer and he failed. One summers failing doesn't change the reality of the last few years or those of the next few years.
Amos.
No, but that summer's failing can change the reality of the whole season approaching, not to mention any fallout from potential failure of said season. He also failed to keep hold of Diarra/Flamini/Gilberto without replacing them, no transfer kitty required. Not replacing them is criminal.
shewore
Gilberto and Diarra were irrelevant last season. Gilberto would have been even less relevant this season. We don't have a real problem in central midfield. The options we have there are relatively sound. We have a problem in the wide areas heightened by the extended absence of Rosicky and inconsistent fitness of Nasri. But the real problem as Vieira indicated is less about new players as the relationship between the existing ones. But if there is an option available at least for the wide/creative side then I am sure Wenger will take it.
Amos.
Diarra was irrelevant last season?! Absolute bull****, as i was walking out of a freezing city of Manchester stadium i was reflecting with my mate how much things can change in a year, that time last year we'd just ground out a result at Villa and diarra was magnificent, a real asset, Wenger just couldn't manage his ego. If we had him for the whole season we wouldn't have had to play players like Gilberto up at wigan, we would have had his bite and tenacity.
shewore
It's not Wenger's fault Diarra left. Right from the outset Diarra was making grumbling noises - let's face it, out midfield last season was nigh on perfect, and Diarra was only ever going to be a bit part player. Not good enough for him. He apparently caused disharmony in the dressing room, by insisting he should be played ahead of Flamini, even though Flamini was playing unbelievably. Diarra was a little s**t, and though we lost a good player, I don't seem to remember too many broken hearts at the time. Sure, we could do with him this season, but hindsight is a wonderful thing, and had he not gone last January, you can bet he would of been angling for a move come the summer. As for what Amos is saying: makes perfect sense to me. And let's not forget that all of our financial predictions will have taken a hit with the state of the World's failing economy. It's a different ball-park now, and I for one am glad that we're not some irresponsible club, with mercenaries for players, and future-blind fans.
ChaosTeaCup
Our midfield was nigh on perfect so we dismantle 50% of it. I can't stand Diarra as a human being, but he's a superb player, one we could have truly done with last season. And i'd take umbrage with the 'mercenaries for players' comment there Chaos... there's one leading the line for us at the moment, the others aren't at the club and we only know they're 'mercenaries' when it's too late.
shewore
A little unfair to say 'we' dismantled the midfiled. Hleb got fed up with being kicked, and not waking up to the fresh smell of manure in the morning, and Flamini left for more money. Yeah, a little naive to say that we don't have any mercenaries at our club, but I must say this in Adebayor's defence: He had a belter of a season last, scoring a few of the goals of the season, showing great versatility, being a genuine threat as both a playmaker, and a striker. So much so that the TOP clubs in Europe came sniffing, two of them publicly stating that he was their TOP transfer target. Now, if you were Adebayor, what would YOU do? I can tell you, in any other walk of life, and football should be no exception. You would give your employer two options: Give me a payrise, or I'll have a looksee what these other clubs are bringing to the table. That's prett normal career strategy. I don't like it, but I can't says I would do any different in a similar situation.
ChaosTeaCup
Depends on your loyalty, this is an old argument but i think Arsene would've sold if they came up with the reddies, all they did was sniff around, no bids were tabled as they didn't have the cash, which is the most frustrating thing. Watch Cesc's responses to exactly the same rumours this summer coming, they'll be completely different, and they do have mobile phone signals in Togo.
shewore
Cesc actually went one further in summer 2007 and met with Madrid behind Wenger's back, together with an outburst on Spanish TV about wanting to play for Barca but feeling he wouldn't be able to dislodge Xavi from their starting line up. Suddenly, contract offer tabled and he kept his trap shut. They're all as bad as one another. Back to Diarra, he was an excellent player but a suspect character, I was not and am not against the decision to sell him, even in hindsight. I feel he could have been an excellent player for this team and a regular starter were it not for the fact that he has the brain of a limp noodle. What should have happened is that someone should have come in to replace him, either in January or the summer. Though I'm comfortable with the job Denilson is doing, the wide areas really need addressing. Drastically.
Little Dutch
Anyone know if we had a sell on clause with Diarra?
shewore
Why players left in the summer is a side issue. In every case we either couldn't really prevent it or it made sense to let them go. Player contracts are freer now than they have ever been. Players will come and go more readily than ever and the same problems will apply to all clubs. The richer you become the less the problems will apply. Which comes full circle to the boards decision to sacrifice short term transfer market freedom over the last 5+ years with an overdependence on youth players for the long terms benefits of increased revenues and a place among the truly wealthy clubs. To an extent that also depends on having a successful team which is the tightrope we are walking at the moment but we are most of the way across and we won't fall off now even if we are swaying a little at present. You might not excuse what happened or didn't happen in the summer but it is understandable - and repairable.
Amos.
A side issue to what? What exactly are we talking about here Mr Fiszman, sorry i mean Amos? Our inconsistent season thus far (which includes some of the worst performances from Arsenal in a long time) is a direct consequence of not holding on to those players in the summer.
shewore
If you are wearying of the debate then best just not join in shewore rather than resorting to snide remarks. The REASON why players left in the summer is the side issue. The fact is that players left and others joined. Our inconsistent season, in my opinion, is due firstly to a lack of midfield balance in the wide areas of midfield (which wouldn't have been helped greatly with the retention of Flam, Gilberto or Diarra) and secondly to a problem that has reared it's head with a lack of harmony in the camp. But there is no major defect in the club or managers main policies or objectives just their ability to execute it over a summer that is now past.
Amos.
There was no holding on to those players though, Shewore. Maybe we could of offered Flamini more money, but I don't think he wanted to be in the Prem, and that's that. He's hardly stting the world alight at Milan, and he must of known his position in that team wouldn't be as important as his position for us. Same with Hleb - no keeping him; he wanted out. Diarra wanted out, too. The problem is we haven't replaced them with equal or better players. We've replaced them with our own younger, unproven players. And Nasri, who whilst not bad, is certainly not as useful to us as Hleb was, though the Hleb haters will try to tell you he's already proven more useful, but I don't think I can agree on that.
ChaosTeaCup
Yes we had a 25 percent sell on clause for Diarra. The reason Wenger didnt get anyone in is because he waited and waited to see if he could knock a few million of the prices. He thought he would let the transfer window run down and buy on the cheap a few days before the end. It backfired and thats why we got no one. That is why we didn not get Alonso, because by then it was too late for Liverpool to get Barry and they wouldnt sell.
paul_ownz
I agree with Chaos' post, but would just add that I am incredibly suspicious of Flamini. At Marseilles and Arsenal, he really pulled out the stops as his contract was ending. I know he was a youngster at Marseilles, but the form he showed in their UEFA Cup run that year, in hindsight, was just a rous to attract a bigger club and hoodwink OM in the process. It worked, here he was pretty average for 3 years before having the season of his life. Then he goes to Milan and goes back to being average again. If he survives long enough in the less forgiving environs of Serie A, expect a few average seasons at Milan before really stepping it up as his contract runs down.
Little Dutch
Agree with you there CTC to a certain extent, just frustrating when you see other managers in the Prem setting out their stall pretty rigidly when it comes to keeping their players... Re Flamini, i can't comment on his form at Marseille before he came to us, but he is a snidey effer, plus he has a law degree (i think), so yeah, what he's done to us is exactly the same as what he did to Marseille. Althought (especially after beating them) you would have expected him to stay with us after playing himself into the team last year.
shewore
I think the Alonso deal was a little bit more complicated than that which is why Juventus pulled out of a deal for him earlier in the summer. Apparently there is a 20% sell on clause in Alonso's contract. It would have cost 'pool £18m to buy Barry. If, as suspected, they needed to get all of that out of the Alonso deal it means they would have needed to get close to £23m for Alonso. No one knows how close Wenger went but it clearly wasn't close enough. The waiting game was being played by 'pool and Villa as much or even more than us.
Amos.
 

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