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What Yer Doing Thursday Night?

With the good vibrations of Monday night, albeit slightly tempered by Eduardo's hamstring injury, still coarsing through the collective Gooner vein, yesterday really felt like a new start. With Arshavin on board, Eduardo scoring again and the free flowing football seemingly returned against Cardiff, it really was a case of the season starts here. With Villa and Chelsea playing one another in the lunchtime kick off, there really was no bad result for us, though with a long term view a Villa defeat was probably the best result we could have asked for. On our walk from the Tavern to the ground, Jon found an untarnished betting slip on the floor, which ended up winning him 35. With the extreme wintery weather of just a fortnight ago banished into the annals of memory by brilliant unseasonal sunshine, spring was in the air and hope really did spring eternal. Well, at least until 5pm anyway.

The big news from the starting line up was that new signing Andrey Arshavin began the game with Carlos Vela dropping to the benchin favour of the unfit Russian. We believe in our young players at Arsenal you see. However, Arshavin very nearly genuflected the ghost of Samir Nasri by scoring four minutes into his debut. The ball broke to him in a central position, given space to forrage forwards, he moved to the edge of the area and sent a low shot achingly wide. Given Arshavin's exploits in last season's UEFA Cup, his experience will prove valuable in the same tournament next season. One of Arsenal's central midfielders then clearly let the occasion get to their heads when one of them actually created something for their centre forwards, Denilson's clever ball was raced onto by van Persie who clipped his shot just wide with Fulop narrowing the angle by diving at the Dutchman's feet. When van Persie is not involved, Arsenal do not score, this miss would be a sign of things to come. With two defensive midfielders in the centre, the Gunners were never likely to create much from that area of the pitch. If Ramsey isn't trusted in this situation, at home against a defensive side, then surely the manager has to see the massive, massive flaw in having a squad that is so impoverished in terms of experience. Ramsey is young and raw, no doubt, but that is how the manager has chosen to contruct his squad. If he doesn't trust what he has himself put together, it's little wonder the side plays with such self doubt.

With the poverty of creativity from the centre, it was down to Nasri and Arshavin to swap flanks approximately every three minutes in a desperate attempt to unsettle Sunderland's defence. With Arshavin now popping up on the right, the idea seemed to work as the new Russian signing cut in on his left foot and unleashed a fiersome shot which was parried away by Fulop. The Black Cats briefly broke out of their defensive manacles and raced away on a counter attack with Clichy lightly jogging back as Malbranque sauntered down his flank, the ball fell to Ferdinand, who fortunatelywas incredibly selfish and shot from a tight angle, leaving Almunia with a simple save with Jones and Reid unmarked in the area. Once again, the only Arsenal player looking vaguely threatening was Arshavin, he dinked in a flighted cross from the right which Bendtner headed goalwards only for Fulop to scramble wide. In first half injury time, Toure would twice be denied from corners. Firstly, when van Persie's inswinging delivery found the Ivorian's head, only for the sizeable figure of Andy Reid to clear off the line. Second time around it was Nasri who delivered the corner and the ball scrambled its way to Toure, whoselow shot was smothered by Fulop. First half goals for Arsenal at home are rarer then nuns in brothels nowadays, the Gunners having registered in the opening 45 minutes only twelve times in the last fourteen months. The club announced on Saturday that all admission prices would be frozen for next season (as if they ahd a choice), maybe they should tell the legions of early leavers not to leave before the end but simply not to bother turning up until half time. The 'opt out' service the club are giving to season ticket holders for the Burnley cup tie might ust as well be valid for the first half of all Premiership matches.

Arshavin, Arsenal's solitary bright spark in the first half, understandably faded in the second half and the Gunners conjured up little else of note in the second half, the Russian being replaced by Carlos Vela on 65 minutes. It really is that desperate kids, we are relying on van Persie being a one man team or alternatively a half fit new signing who will require the customary adaption period in this league. Once again, the metaphor of a team that has slammed a brick on the accelerator, closed its eyes and hoped for the best comes back to me. It got to the stage where our full backs, possibly one of the few world class departments of our team, to try and forge a chance. Nasri played a one two with Clichy, which the wing heeled Frenchman just managed to clip back into the area before the ball exited play and Sagna connected with the cross, only for the ball to deflect wide. Bacary Sagna was once again left to be a creative force when he bombed down the right flank, floated in a cross which evaded the head of Collins and found Carlos Vela on the backpost, but the young Mexican, usually show assuredin front of goal, panicked and dragged his shot wide.

With the Gunners fresh out of ideas, Wenger was about to unleash the kind of attacking ploy which strikes fear into the league's lesser lights. With his side floundering in the creative elements once more, Arsene unleashed a back up right back and told him to win the game from central midfield. Scary darey. I remember the days when we used to put the likes of Kanu and Wiltord on in this situation. Sigh. Meanwhile, Fran Merida, an actual attacking midfielder, kicked his heels on the bench. I realise he is very raw, but really, with Sunderland pariking the bus, would it have been such a risk to put Nasri in the centre and see if Merida could open a packed defence from the flanks? One has to think he'd be more likely to do so than Eboue, I'm not having a pop at Eboue here as such, in fact, it's pretty unfair of the manager to put him on in that situation. Particularly as he was again audibly booed on entrance to the pitch, which hardly helps. But the manager cannot on one hand champion his youuth policy and then refuse to trust it. Putting Eboue on revealed that the manager feels his side is too inexperienced, putting on a 26 year old right back as opposed to an 18 year old winger when we desperately need a goal at home shows the manager doesn't even believe in his own project anymore.

Arsenal created a couplet of chances in the dying stages, Vela played the ball into Bendtner, who flicked the ball brilliantly to the edge of the area, the home crowd groaned at him even though the ball convincingly found its target, but Gallas dragged his shot wide. Then in the last minute, Almunia pumped the ball forward, Eboue, now playing as a target man, won the flick on and the ball fell invitingly to van Persie on his left foot, but his fulminating drive was easily held by Fulop. The final whistle sounded to a cascade of sustained booing. That was very harsh, the team honestly tried their hardest- as they had in the two previous goalless matches- the truth is that this is the sum total of what we are capable of. We are an average side living off of reputation and as such we are played against as though we are a top side, facing packed defences. The sides slightly better than us, such as Villa, and at or around our level, like Everton, don't often have to face quite the same problem. The UEFA Cup looks just about achievable, so long as Everton do not prolong their run of good results. We have had a run of very generous fixtures since Christmas and we find ourselves even further adrift of Villa than we were in the New Year. All the talk of a Villa collapse misses the point wildly, because we are not capable of capitalising on any negative results they achieve. We will drop many more points yet, the side as it is will not be changing any time soon. Maybe Walcott can add something in a fortnight's time, but 4th place will likely be only possible mathematically at that juncture. Relying on a very inconsistent and unpredictable 19 year old to reignite our season is a sad state of affairs, but in a squad of inconsistent and unpredictable young players dotted amongst a few journeymen, that really is the quandary we find ourselves in. The substitutions and the manager's team selections show that, despite all of his bluster, he knows that too. The question before us was could we use the arrivals of Eduardo and Arshavin and the good vibes of Monday to launch our season. The answer was a resounding no as mediocrity enevloped us once more. I wrote on Monday that if that game didn't shake them from their entropy, nothing would. Oh well.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday February 22 2009

Time: 2:17PM

Your Comments

I trust the season ticket price freeze will include the reduction in VAT? paying the same for Europa league games as Champions league games is a joke personally I would rather have an option of attending those or Carling cup games, we shall see. I thought Vela should have started and Arsharvin should have come on when we were inevitabley struggling to boost the crowd and deflate sunderland. Something has to change, we cant keep going into games hoping to score Arsene has got to do some serious thinking on how to solve this ongoing problem otherwise its Europa league, Ive no problem with entering that competition as with our current financial situation its was always going to happen at some stage I just expect that to be reflected in my season ticket price but that decision has incredibly already been made.
iceman10
I think vela should have started on the left , nasri in the middle AA on right, denilson or song in DM position, we would have had more penetration that way. Playing two mostly "side ways" passers in the middle push our creativity mainly to the wings. Winning champ league might be our way into the competetion next season. not like to happen obviously.
NeoGunner
Incisive article LD which is more than can be said for our football at the moment. I also think the manager has lost faith in his young players and this showed in what was a clutching at straws decision to start with Arshavin who is unfit and untried in the epl. Vela had a good game against Cardiff but was presumably considered not up to playing against Sunderland. All this constant chopping and changing of players can't be helping either. Finally if Vela, Ramsey, Wilshere, Gibbs, Merida et al aren't good enough to play what the hell are they doing on the bench? Aaaaargh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
norfolk dumpling
It's amusing to hear the proposition that starting with Arshavin was 'clutching at straws'. I can just imagine the tone of posts here had he not started with Arshavin and the result had, as it may well have, been the same. Given the febrile atmosphere that infected most Arsenal blogs when it looked as though we might not sign Arshavin the refusal not to start him in favour of young players would have received at least as much condemnation. What were those players doing on the bench? Well Wilshere wasn't there but both Vela and Gibbs got to play but rules only permit 3 substitutes.
Amos.
I agree, Nasri should be played centrally, he's always looking to push forward, and it would allow him to play short passes with the strikers and Arshavin.
TPowell
I am pleased you find it all amusing. I wasn't particularly referring to the Sunderland game when talking about the substitutes just wondering why these players have so often sat on the bench but are rarely used. I suppose I am amused that you think the manager could be swayed by what might be said on a blog, oh and thank you for putting me right ref the number of subs that can be used. Oh dear oh dear!
norfolk dumpling
Sorry ND - re-reading my post it was far more sarky than I really intended. I was trying to say that whether Arshavin started or not the result, had it been the same, would have ensured that either decision would have been criticised. Wishere is not ready to start in these sorts of games and it is probably better to use the younger players from the bench at this stage of their careers. So having them as substitutes is the more practical option.
Amos.
Honestly, why so many people decide to lay the blame for our front players' crap finishing on Denilson and Song, I don't know. Though I guess it's hardly surprising - even after the Cardiff match, some fans were in their "dem two iz rubbish, yeah" mode.
e.y
I dont blame Denilson or song for the draw, thought they had an ok game. My opinion is and a more attack minded midfield should have been utilized in the middle. I mostly saw side passes between those two. not enough passes going to the strikers the middle. we were limited to the wings.
NeoGunner
2 things LD. firstly i believe we were booing andy reid who was taking forever to go off rather than eboue, secondly eboue went right mid and nasri in the centre. Even so it was negative and shows a lack of trust in some of the youngsters
paul_ownz
were in for a tough time lads, especially as we still have to play united, liverpool, and chelsea.....bad times
daveski
I don't think we can blame this on lack of creativity from midfield, we had more than enough chances to finish this game off but yet again faild to score.
Armory
I agree with Amos on this one. Personally, I feel that if AA wasn't started and we still had the same outcome, the critics would have been the same. I thought he's be on the bench and AW sticking to the same formation and only RvP and Clichy on for Eddy and Gibbs, while AA would be used in the last half an hour when Sunderland's legs were heavier and heads less clear. His inclusion in first 11 was a crowd-pleaser by AW and who can blame him for that? We've been moaning about it for months now. However, the thing that *****ed me off was the pace that we played at. For 80 minutes it was the same medium-slow pace with the occasional long ball making sure I don't fall asleep.
G4L
I have to say that this article is largely nonsense..the manager assesses the players in training and clearly did not want to use Vela 3 times in just over a week..starting Arshavin was not an admission of any failed youth policy but simply preserving one player's fitness and showcasing the talents of another..whatever people may say about Eboue, he has pace and has linked up well with Sagna in the past..contrary to what you may have seen, Eboue went on the right and Nasri played in the centre..I can't see what was so terrible about that particular substitution at that particular time..Ramsay obviously wasn't signed to simply waltz straight into the first and is clearly a signing for the future..consider how long Denilson and Song have been at the club and their comparative ages to Ramsay.. How can you then justify saying that he should start ahead of them? The team that started may not be good enough to qualify for the champions league but every man and his dog knows this isn't anything really near our starting line up and to suggest that we are only missing an 'unpredictable nineteen year old' is clearly untrue and disappointing...
Anon 1
Preserving Velas fitness? He's hardly played all season and had a break from monday to saturday, his non selection was never a fitness issue. In regards the substitutions I dont think anyone is being highly critical as injuries have robbed us of options but in truth after finishing 4 points off winning the league with a weak squad we should have strengthed better to be able to cover these problems. Instead we are now struggling to finish in the champions league spots and what makes it all the more gauling is last years squad with a couple of additions would probably have walked the title this year, not all Wengers fault of course but its very frustrating and makes us ask questions of the smallest bad decisions he is making and rightly so.
iceman10
This game was an opportunity to close in on villa and apply some pressure on them. As it is, they will be happy that they had a tough match, and Arsenal could only make a point on them. Missed opportunity.
Gael-Force
Anon1, you have made my point for me very succinctly. I know Vela isn't ready to play every game, I know Ramsey isn't. What's more, the manager knows it too. Does that not reveal an enormous flaw in our squad? We've chosen to have squad players who aren't ready to play yet and can't be trusted to do so by the manager. Whilst we deride players over 28 and regard them with contempt, letting the likes of Pires and Gilberto go all too easily, Ferguson holds on to the likes of Scholes and Giggs and gets value out of them in precisely the kind of situation we were in on Saturday. I didn't say Ramsey should start ahead of Song and Denilson, but the fact that he can't once again reveals the folly of our current squad. We sold Gilberto and replaced him with Ramsey, that was the manager's choice and it's one he patently doesn't trust. In the short term, Walcott is all we are missing. Fabregas won't be back until mid April and we've known that for some time, Rosicky's never coming back (even if you believe the club propaganda that says he will possibly, maybe be in the reserves in 3 weeks, by the time he's played three reserve games, you're looking at late April). Walcott is the only one due back any time soon in terms of creative players and we've been aware of that situation for a while. Basically, we haven't built a squad capable of handling any sort of injury problems. We didn't have one last season and we've weakened it since then. The fact that the manager does not trust the young players he trumpets so highly reveals he doesn't believe in his own squad. How many times have you heard him say that new signings will hinder the development of his youngsters? Yet he puts Eboue on ahead of Ramsey or Merida in midfield at home to Sunderland.
Little Dutch
I think LD's analysis is spot-on. Well, we just have to accept that we're likely to miss out on CL football next season and that we have no divine right to it. Man City are another club that is going to push us hard in future (whether its next season or thereafter) so unless there's a shift in strategy we all better get used to a new world order where we don't get into the CL every season. Man U, Chelsea and to a certain extent Liverpool will do everything in their power to stay there. I'm fearful that we'll be left behind.
Gooner_Vin
a very humble & honest opinion in that article. fair play to you. you will scare the s**t out of teams when you have rosicky, walcott, eduardo, arshavin, cesc, nasri, all fit and playing.
Stig
I tried to stay away from this blog but like a moth I am attracted to the light or should i say like a fly to the crap. Anon, I could not agree more, the back slapping has hardly died and out come the poison pens. The team played well and all players gave their best, but it just would not go in the goal. The opposition parked the bus and hardly put any effort into playing a game at all. If we lose against Roma the knitting needles will come out and the gang led by LD (which I used to consider, an honest writer) will sit around Madame guillotine demanding that A.W. has his head removed. But watch them all change their tunes if we win.
alwaysgunner
AG are you Arsene in disguise? The analysis of the game could have been pulled from any one of arsenes match reports over the past few months.if we beat roma which is highly possible that won't change the fact that this squad is not good enough to compete for the title and after coming so close last season that not the way it should have been. We are now a good cup team who at times play some excellent football a bit like spurs in the 80's if your happy with that then cool but don't try and mock anyone else for having an opin ion.
iceman10
142.50 return penzance to paddington, 90 minutes of total despair and frustration at the Emirates, and arrival back at penzance at ungodly o clock sunday morning has really left me feeling " why do i do it " but the really frustrating thing, is not the fact that we are imploding on ourselfs this season, its the fact that i cant see it getting any better no matter who is coming back from injury etc we seem to have lost the will to win, and wheni see teams the like of fulham, hull etc etc etc scoring goals and playing as though they want to win, and with a team that cost less than just 2 or 3 of our so called superstars i am not looking forward to my next trip to the emirates, but i will be there, because i live in hope that maybe, just maybe we will someday find the solution and at 67 years old, please let it be soon
cornish gooner
A few months ago we were constantly hearing about how porous our defense was..now we have arrested the slide, our creativity needs to be retuned..but surely this was the very reason why were all so upset when Fabregas got injured?..remove ade, theo and cesc and pace, power and creativity all disappear...I agree that selling Gilberto and not replacing him was strange, while the sale of Hleb is something that still keeps me awake at night...Yet I stand by the fact that our renewed solidity will be complimented by the return of our creativity and shall ensure champions league glory..why worry about qualifying for it when you can win the bloody thing??!!
Anon 1
It's not my job to back pat or fillate egos, just to give my opinion on any given game. That is what I have done and that is my honest opinion, if you disagree fair game but questioning my integrity or "honesty" as you put it really isn't on. I have never called for Arsene's head and don't see myself doing so in the near future. There is a difference between criticising the man who has clearly made big errors this year and calling for him to be sacked. Life isn't always about extremes and I think it would benefit you greatly to appreciate that. (Not all people who vote Tory are massive far right racists and not all people who vote Lib Dem are red flag waving, card carrying commies, there is a middle ground). But Sunderland was not a one off, far from it as we have had 3 0-0s in a row. This season, we have dropped points against Villa x2, Everton, Fulham, Hull City, Liverpool, Man City, Middlesbrough, Stoke City, Sunderland x2, Tottenham x2 and West Ham. That hardly points to Saturday being a one off or that "the ball just wouldn't go in." Luck is an entirely man made concept and one we humans use because we are scared of the fact that life is sometimes just a random sequence of events. (And luck always seems to be "bad luck" when things don't go your way. When they do go our way, we all agree it's entirely down to our own quality). Sunderland's tactics are up to them and did not contravene the rules of the game, it is up to them to break them down and if we can't, that is our failing. Complaining about it just shows how effective it is. Beating Roma would be a terrific result if we do and I would of course be fulsome in my praise. That's not changing my tune so much as assessing what happens in an individual game and giving my view on it. That's what the match report is supposed to do and if I had already decided the tone of the report before I had even seen the game I would be doing myself and all readers a massive injustice. I don't have any interest in towing any party lines nor adopting any set mantras. Match reports will always assess the indivudual game and try to work in any persistent failures/ successes from the season where appropriate. I've said to you many times AG that I will only ever give my opinion on what happens, whether positive or negative. If you have such serious trouble accepting opinions contrary to your own and immediately feel the need to question people's integrity when they don't agree with you, I think you'll have a hard time with any other website bar arsenal.con. I was very pleased with the performance against Cardiff but also wrote that it needed to be a springboard to propel us on for the rest of the season, it wasn't. You will also see, contrary to your claims, that I put explicitly in writing that I felt the team tried their hardest and have been doing so for some time. I will once again repeat the quote I gave you a few weeks back, "learn to listen and you will profit even from those that speak badly."
Little Dutch
AG - what a chip on your shoulder you have, serve him another full toss and you'll be hit for six again.
shewore
I blame Tuesday's game against Roma for the uncommitted display on Saturday. The champion's league has proven to be a massive distraction for us the last few seasons. I disagree, LD, that the players worked as hard as they could, I don't think they did at all. We will play better on Tuesday, with full commitment, of that I'm fairly certain.
ChaosTeaCup
Disgraceful, defeatist article. We thoroughly deserve to be called poor fans. It's only Feb, we are still in 2 cup competitions and spots 1,2and 3 are still up for grabs. How dare you call the Arsenal team mediocre? Appalling attitude all round, I think. I wouldn't blame any player for wanting to leave given all the negativity and counter-productive booing. If you can predict the final league standings, you should be asking people to queue up and cross your palm with silver. I have never been so angry at fellow Gooners as I have been this weekend. Stop giving up, where is your stomach? You sound like fickle sp*rs fans.
julieloveshenry4ever
Julie, behave, people are allowed to guess at fixtures. And what exactly is positive over the Arsenal at the moment? Spots 1,2 and 3 are still up for grabs?! You obviously know very little about football.
shewore
Why do people equate not being a cloudy headed optimist with not being a "real" supporter? That's so simplistic, I'm allowed to have an opinion about the team and this is it. If you have a conflicting view put it across. How dare I call the team mediocre? Probably having travelled to and watched all bar one of our games this season (Fenerbahce away being the only one I didn't attend personally), that's given me a decent idea. And why do people equate those not 100% happy with the team with the booers? On what basis do you come to the conclusion I boo our players? Do you sit next to me? Because I can tell you I don't and never have done. As for players wanting to leave based on the negativity of the fans, well I doubt they really give two *****s about the fans and what they think, how else could you explain the fact that only one player came over to acknowledge us travelling fans at Everton and only two came over in Kyiv? (Ironically enough, one of which was Eboue). I turn up every week (and midweek) home and away, support the team fiercely and vocally, then I write down what I think here for people to debate for absolutely no charge. If that makes me a bad supporter, then so be it.
Little Dutch
I personally believe there is not as much urgency in the team as in previous years. This to me is down to the CM pairing being to slow and passing sideways & Clichy playing with the handbrake on. The CM dynamics should change for the better when Fabregas returns. I am not sure about Clichy at the moment, maybe a few mistakes has put to much caution in him. He is certainly not an attacking threat at the moment as if to scared to take people on.
paul_ownz
How dare you call the Arsenal team mediocre? When you compare the current Arsenal team to the Arsenal teams of years gone by under Wenger then i think it is acceptable to call them mediocre. If you want to compare our team to West Broms then we are brilliant. Unfortuantly Wenger has us believe we have a squad worthy of challenging for the title when clearly we dont. If you want to set unrealistic expectations then you have to expect the supporters to question the quality of the team when they dont perform to those standards. Having Diaby, Denilson, Song, Ramsey as centre midfielders is certainly considered mediocre compared to Vieria, Silva, Flamini, Diarra, Edu, Petit
paul_ownz
Shewore, I meant spots 2, 3 and 4. It was a typo. And yes, this is all defeatist tripe. Chelski were rubbish in that 2nd half yesterday. This season isn't over yet.
julieloveshenry4ever
Either or Julie, it was still a p1ss poor post.
shewore
This time last year, I would've put the house on us having the title in the bag. Then we dropped a 5point advantage to go 6 points behind Utd;a flipping 11 point swing. Of course the bloody title is United's. That's game over. But Chelsea and Liverpool are still shaky and Villa's incredible luck with late own-goals and the like will run out. Chelski were only good in the first half on sat. It was a miracle Villa didn't at least equalize in the second half. You settle for Europa Cupfootball if you want but I'm not giving up on Wenger yet. You can't have it both ways- all over them after one result, then want to flay them alive in the next. Again, I don't know what month your calendar is on but mine says February. And the last time I looked at the table it said only 7 points off Chelski and 6 points off Villa. Think I'll wait another 4 games before sticking the boot in to my own team. What about a bit of fight before you roll over and allow Villa to walk off with the CL spot? Because that's what you are doing here, just throwing in the towel. Villans don't have a thing to worry about if Arsenal fans can be so fickle. Very disappointing comments.
julieloveshenry4ever
"This is all defeatist tripe." Then argue with it, put your point across. The manager tells us he doesn't want to sign players because of the quality of our young players, the board tell us and the accounts show us money is available. Then Wenger puts on a 26 year old right back ahead of an 18 year old winger when we need a goal at home to Sunderland. Surely you can see the hypocrisy there? Tell us what reason there is to be optimistic, we have not been in the top 4 positions for months and have had a run of eminently winnable fixtures since Villa Park. What evidence is there for optimisim? I'm struggling to see it myself.
Little Dutch
Shewore- A ***** poor post to stand up for my own club and my own team? Well I have really heard it all now. I have loved being a part of this forum but if I am to take abuse for refusing to to throw in the towel, then that is an absolute disgrace. Well you can rest easy without having to be subjected to any more of my "***** poor" posts if that's the case. Goodbye.
julieloveshenry4ever
I think you have us confused with players/ managers of the team Julie. Firstly, "luck" is a nonsense factor, one entirely made up by people too scared to accept that random events can happen in life which don't bare explanation. Champions deal with that, losers complain about it. Villa have not been lucky, you don't win eight consecutive away games through luck, it is because they set up excellently, tactically and footballing wise away from home. To receive an own goal, you still have to put the ball in the right place. How is scoring late lucky? I fail to understand, how is a 90th minute goal any luckier than a 24th minute goal? If that is lucky, then we're the luckiest side in the Premiership, look at the stats for goals scored in the last ten minutes. There must be a lot of lucky heather in that there dressing room. I'm not rolling over and allowing Villa the CL spot, largely because I don't play. If I were in central midfield next Saturday then I would understand that comment, happily I won't be. We are 6 points off Villa, they will drop points before the end of the season. But here's the massive problem. So will we. Villa have dropped points over the last few weeks, but we've dropped more. I might also point out that Villa fans booed their team off after a 0-0 draw with Wigan last month, so we are hardly the sole preserve of negativity in the Premiership.
Little Dutch
Supporting a team isn't a cult Julie, it does not neccesitate that you have to be wildly optimistic about everything at all times contrary to all evidence. People are allowed to be unhappy and to express that dissatisfaction.
Little Dutch
LD is, sadly, bang on. Our only consolation may be that when we finish 5th the fans will spit the dummy en masse and Arsene will *have* to go out and buy in some reinforcements. Our midfield is pathetic.
Moorish
You can express dissatisfaction but it should be logical and within reason..we've lost our most creative player and our central striker to injury and don't look as fluid or likely to score as we used to, is that such a surprise?..is that so illogical?...The title and content of the article surely goes to the extremes that you seem to be against..supporting a team shouldn't be a cult but nor should it be a hotbed of total pessimism...
Anon 1
No it's not a cult LD but supporters are supposed to do just that- support. I know you have followed too many seasons to deny that the final third of the season delivers many twists and turns. With Arshavin integrating, Eduardo back again next week, Walcott, Fabragas and Rosicky to come back, I won't give up until it's mathematically impossible because I'll be damned if I give any Villa supporter the satisfaction. Of course it's not us on the pitch but I've taken some flak over the past month or two about how mean Arsenal fans are and I'm sick of hearing that. If you're convinced it's all over, then that's fine but I will wait to see what the rest of the season brings.
julieloveshenry4ever
I think it is quite logical, based on the fact that after 26 games we are deservedly 6 points off a CL place having come through a very kind set of fixtures. The title is supposed to be blackly ironic, though I accept that my sense of humour has trouble transmitting itself in writing. It's probably easier to detect when you know me, that's something I'll work on. But ultimately, I think the tone is correct. I mean, Hull fans could logistically and fairly argue that they can still win the Premiership, but it ain't gonna happen and I would probably take any article that pretended it could with a pinch of salt. The article is geared to my expectations, which is of a team about to suffer the indignity of the UEFA Cup. If it doesn't happen I will happily retract. I like to think I am as objective as possible when I write here, the fact that I have, in the last month, been called overly pessimistic and overly optimistic that confirms to me that that's what I have done.
Little Dutch
I dont see how voicing an opinion on a blog then transmits negativity on the football pitch. I for one go in to every game and give my support for the team. I dont boo my own players and applaud the players that come over to recognise the fans turning out. I am by no means throwing in the towel, but after going to 20 of the 26 league games i feel that unless a miracle happens then we will be watching Europa cup football. Villa will drop points, but they would have to drop 6 more than us meaning we would probably have to win 9 of the next 12 games. Considering we have only managed 12 wins so far and have failed to capitalise on slips by Villa so far in "easier fixtures", the prospect of doing that seems stacked against us. Hopefully Fabregas and friends can return quick enough to do that.
paul_ownz
'team about to suffer the indignity of the UEFA cup' is a little brat-faced is it not, LD. That surprised me from you. I understand the frustrations, but I think, like all the blogs post saturday, they are a culmination of frustration, rather than a real reflection of just that one game. Also it's been made worse by the false dawn of Monday's FA cup game. I want to say one thing, and this is not directed at anyone here, who, compared to a lot of forums, are level-headed decent fans, but this season Arsenal fans have been pretty embarrassing with their over the top destruction of the team. Also, Arsenal fans seem to make more noise in the forums than they do on the terraces, which, if you don't think affects team morale, I wonder what effect you do think it may have. If Liverpool's amazing home support is often cited as 'the 12th man' then it wouldn't be stretching it to cite our home support as the 'central defender on a yellow card'....?
ChaosTeaCup
Well I shall remain defiant and positive. I don't know about Thursdays next year but I fully expect to spend my Tuesdays and Wednesdays watching Arsenal play in the CL, so up yours Martin O'Neill!
julieloveshenry4ever
Interesting analogy there Chaos! I agree that the fans at the Grove truly can hinder how we play on the pitch, some of the 'ott' reaction to one missed place pass is embarrassing, but it's a culmination of a lot of things, eg - how we have gone from being the best side in Europe to a team holding onto 5th spot, the prices they have to pay to see Arsenal, looks of pure disgust if you try and get some noise going, the board bragging about how much money they have and how much of an example we are to other clubs fiscally-wise, and the fact that we can't seem to score at the moment! And please Liverpool's ''amazing'' home support... such a tired, media dreamt, cliche.
shewore
I've witnessed the atmosphere at Anfield, and it's pretty bloody impressive if you ask me, and certainly way more impressive than our home support. But yes, it's mighty frustrating all those things you cite. I'm not convinced we've lost our ('our' see, that's the type of thinking that has lead to this bluster) CL spot, but at the same time, I'm considering it a real possibility.
ChaosTeaCup
"Arsenal fans seem to make more noise in the forums than they do on the terraces". You hit the nail on the head kind of. The problem is Terraces have been gone for 20 odd years and replaced with comfortable seats. Standing and expressing yourself gets greeted with over zealous men in orange coats. And the Anfield 12th man is a myth much like the lochness, which i have been unfortunate to witness on any of my 4 trips there
paul_ownz
I suppose it depends on what game you see. The last time I went I was unfortunate enough to watch Peter Crouch put a hat-trick past us, which has flattened my motivation to ever set foot near the Mersey again. There were a lot of noisy, happy, 'pool fans that day, for shizzle...
ChaosTeaCup
The only way the atmosphere will improve is if the corporates give the working man his sport back... and that aint gonna happen! The magic of the kop n all that, sorry but i think it's bull****. However, undoubtably it's better than the Grove (most of the time) i'm sure, the main reason for that in my opnion is that they're allowed to stand, they don't get letters of pure bile from AFC citing Islington Council as the reason for us having to sit...bring back terracing!
shewore
"I dont see how voicing an opinion on a blog then transmits negativity on the football pitch" -- I recently left a blog I quite enjoyed posting on precisely because of this bizarro world stalinist attitude. It got taken over by a bunch of know-nothing clowns whose demand was that all Arsenal blogs are the equivalent of a stadium and that the entire nation of gooners should all cheer their team on in total unison in the blogosphere as we do (or should do) at the stadium. The belief was that true supporters should have no opinions on the team. They actually said that. They also argue bizarro world things like Ade is better than Torres, United is full of average players, and Flamini & Hleb are suddenly worthless crap players who could add nothing to our team. They spend more time hating on gooners who dare to look at the team critically rather than actually talk about football. Not that they know much about football to talk about it -- they're total football illiterates. There are gooners who mindlessly bash our players and manager and make lots of ridiculous claims and demands but there's the other extreme too. Vital Arsenal makes for a good mixture, it's possible to have an actual debate about football here. Nor are people called traitors if they dare to criticize the team and manager.
jaelle
LD is doing nothing more than writing his opinion of matters. His level of frustration is not extreme and is quite indicative of how many of us feel. On the other hand, remaining confident and positive is an enviable trait. This site is the best because we all are able to communicate sensible opinions, no need to change that now.
TPowell
Maybe deriding the UEFA Cup is "bratfaced", but when you pay 1,825 for 26 home games it's not unjustified. I also know this manager is capable of producing much, much, much better than he has this year. I consider UEFA Cup qualification to be a massive underachievement from this manager because I know his quality, regardless of resources or otherwise. And I've never heard atmosphere from Anfield from outside the away section, in fact I remember that 4-1 defeat in brilliant sunshine and us spending much of the second half chanting, "where's your famous atmosphere?"
Little Dutch
Can we just wait until the season is over before we reflect on what this manager has or has not achieved. Since when were CL places handed out in February? In case some of you have forgotten, we are in 2 cup competitions right now and are playing a CL match tomorrow night. Villa are off to fight a losing battle in Moscow on Thursday. NOBODY has achieved ANYTHING until May.
julieloveshenry4ever
I am so sorry, if I have an opinion that is opposite to LD or the the LD gang; who rush to protect him, I must be either Arsene or a bowler who gets hit for six. 70% of this blog run a negative blog, yet over 47% seem to think we will finish third. how odd. I have always said this is a game of football and LUCK plays a part in the game, failure to understand that condemns the writer to being an idiot, in my opinion. Julie unfortunately on this blog woe betide anyone who wants to be positive, how dare you wait till the season is over. The great LD has decided, contradict LD (who forever tells us how much he has spent paying to watch Arsenal, we now we know we know) and his gang will quickly attack you. I await the Roma result with interest.
alwaysgunner
Difference is most of us arent attacking an individual as you seem to want to do AG. LD has had plenty of critics in regards his match ratings in particular so not everyone agrees with him so bang goes that little fantasy of yours. We all have opinions and yours are welcomed as are Julies and Anon, attacking an individual regularly is not welcomed and shows a lack of class.
iceman10
Again, you've firmly grasped the wrong end of the stick. I suspect deliberately. I never said you couldn't have a contrary opinion, in fact I invited you to put it across- you still haven't done so. All you've done is attacked my integrity. You have yet to offer a single reasoned point. If you look at the forum, some have sided with me, some against me. That's pretty healthy. I don't believe in luck and never have done, luck is what losers complain about when things go wrong. The fact is, stuff happens in life and in football we just don't understand, that scares us so we lump it in as "luck", some kind of imagined force conspiring against us. If having that opinion makes me an idiot, without you putting across why you think that, I think that says a great deal your inability and refusal to engage in an adult conversation. In short, grow up mate.
Little Dutch
"70% of this blog run a negative blog, yet over 47% seem to think we will finish third. how odd."Aside fromthe skewed maths, does not show a healthy positive blog? A democratic one at that? You have every right to feel positive if you wish, as does Julie. All I'masking is that you actually put your point across, tell me what it is so I can debate it. As yet, you have not given one football based opinion on this forum.
Little Dutch
Interestingly, LD, AW himself has said he doesn't believe in luck in the game, tho he sometimes uses the word to explain a result. In John Cleese's series THE ART OF FOOTBALL (where AW is frequently interviewed), AW says clearly that there is no such thing as luck in football -- and that what others call luck, he defines as a player's or team's inability in a particular moment to fully take advantage of his or their talents.
jaelle
I have seen positive and negative LUCK play out too many times in sport over the years to agree that only losers use it as an excuse. I don't care what anyone says, how United won the CL last year is a mystery. Shouldn't have even got into the final never mind won it. Everyone who watched that final knows that Chelsea had United beaten before John Terry slipped in a puddle- a PUDDLE for goodness' sake. Don't tell me United didn't get lucky. And they certainly caught a break when Eduardo's foot was nearly taken off. I still say that Arsenal were the best team last year and we'd have won that title if we hadn't lost Eduardo. That was just dumb luck, nothing else. And how can you look at our current injury list and say we have not suffered from appalling bad luck this year. Rosicky still out 13 months later; Walcott out for 3 months after training with ENGERLAND; Fabregas out for 4 months and when Eduardo does courageously come back to give us 2 goals, he tweaks a hamstring and we lose him for another 2 weeks. Oh and Silvestre suffers a "setback". That's beyond bad luck, that's a flamin' curse. Oh and we did get LUCKY in 2006 because on the last day of that season as you are all well aware, the spud players all fell sick from a dodgy buffet and we scraped through CL qualification by the mere skin of our teeth. Luck and ManU-sponsored referees play a very significant part in the final standings, I say.
julieloveshenry4ever
Actually, julie part of me agrees with you -- AW was talking about "luck" on the pitch during a game when a player tries to score and comes very close but just misses, that sort of thing. He wasn't referring to injuries, which is indeed a matter of "luck" -- and there we've had horrible luck consistently. I don't understand it, we never ever seem to get out of this injury plague. Ferguson talks about a "nightmare" because some of his defenders are out -- poor baby. And as to your point re the pro-MU bias, even Allardyce and the Times finally admitted it after the Blackburn game at OT. Webb's performance at OT on Saturday was pathetic. The Times article came very close to saying that it is impossible to referee a game at OT properly. They even said Benitez had a point in his recent rant against Ferguson.
jaelle
I don't at all regard our injury list as bad luck. MON ruthlessly vets players fitness records before he buys them, he analyses games played per season, minutes per season, injuries per season, where injuries occur, how significant, average amount of time out. We were warned about Rosicky before we bought him by the Czech national side, Nasri, Diaby and Silvestre were all crocks when we bought them, as was van Persie. You also have to question training methods, why do we get more injuries than other top four sides over such a long period of time? Look at the manner of injuries too, Diaby- thigh, Ade- hamstring, Eduardo- hamstring, Toure- groin, Silvestre- calf (recurred three times, every time he trains again). Rosicky- hamstring. Walcott has had a dodgy shoulder since he was 15. Somewhere down the line you stop blaming bad luck and look at our training methods compared to other sides, as well as our medical team and how rigorous we are when we sign players. Sometimes, random events happen in life and we can't deal with it, so we call it luck and imagine there's some kind of Godly conspiracy against us and that it couldn't possibly be down to our own inadequacies. Eduardo broke his leg, but we didn't have the squad to deal with it. That's what I'm talking about. Successful teams deal with these random sequences better than unsuccessful teams. Terry was not unlucky, he should have been a little more aware of the terrain or checked his studs. Harsh you might think, but had he done either, he would have taken a different penalty and probably scored. There was no luck at work there, he could have avoided it through free will. United weren't lucky, they did not lose a single game in a competition of 13 games against the best sides in Europe. Tottenham were not unlucky, their players should have abided by basic hygiene when eating around colleagues. These things happen in life and in football and some people deal with them and succeed and some people sit and lament "luck." (Interestingly, these people almost never attribute success to "good luck".) Besides which, over a 38 game season, everyone finishes where they deserve. Period. It's the purest principle of the sport. There are a random sequence of events in football and life and it is us that assign them as positive or negative, they're not really, only in our minds. They're just events that happen. We struggle to accept that life has little or no linearity, so we desperately assign this concept of "luck" to abate this fear. Psychology lecture over. For now.
Little Dutch
LD, those arguments about John Terry not checking the terrain and Spuds players simply failing to observe basic hygiene is stretching it a bit. John Terry did the same prep and run-up to that ball as each of the players before him. The spud players got sick the night before the final game of the season after holding on to 4th spot for MONTHS. Have you ever heard of such a thing happening before or since? It was utterly bizarre. And United are constantly getting wrongful penalties and had many penalties that should have been given against them and weren't. SWP gets a retrospective ban for kicking out in retaliation and Ronaldo does the same thing at the weekend and gets off with it? Right! In fact when United pick up their EPL winners medals this season, I hope the powers that be remember to strike a few extra medals for all the match officials too in recognition of their outstanding contribution to that club's win. In fact, why not dispense with the pretence and put them all in a United kit next year?
julieloveshenry4ever
Julie, the examples you cite aren't luck, but authority incompetence. Luck is something we simply project onto things ourselves, it's entirely subjective and man made. Take Spuds hygiene troubles (and the tests showed the virus spread through the team due topoor hygiene). Spurs fans consider that bad luck. Arsenal fans consider that good luck. The rest of the world doesn't give a flying *****. Does that not show the non existence of "luck?" It wasn't luck, or a pre determined event powered by some exterior force. It was just a random thing that happened, it is only in our minds that it is considered "luck." Some of us enjoyed it, some of us didn't, 98% of the world didn't care. JT can't be blamed for not checking the terrain. BUT, had he, he would have probably altered his run up. Far fetched maybe, but there was an element of free will in there, Terry himself could have prevented it which eliminates the prospect this imagined fairy called "luck"came and sprinkled her fairy dust all over it. Human intervention would have prevented it.
Little Dutch
Julie, up the villa! :D
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