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West Ham United 2 Arsenal 2

With a pretty heavy night on the tiles having been negotiated on Saturday night for a friend`s birthday, the thought of keeping to my arrangement of watching the Liverpool United game in the Duke of Edinburgh pub on Green Street made me feel queasy, sleazy and slightly uneasy, so Sunday morning saw the procurement of one bacon sandwich, brown bread and one large bottle of still Lucozade to be consumed in one fell swoop. Fortunately, the conditions on London Underground are that sub human that I managed to sweat most of the excess out on the long, long tube ride on the District Line to Upton Park. So two jugs of Guinness were secured together with supplementary leaning ledge (those of you familiar with the Duke will know that you`ve got more chance of getting into Kelly Brook`s knickers than you`ve got of getting to the bar after 2pm) as we watched Torres tear United a new a hole.

We squeezed our way through the dangerously narrow away concourse and into our seats at the back of the Trevor Brooking Stand Lower Tier (the irony of having Arsenal fans sit in a stand of that name). Whoever gave Upton Park and Health and Safety Certificate needs to take a serious look at themselves, the concourses will accommodate around three people stood shoulder to shoulder, in the event of a fire or an emergency, evacuation would absolutely certainly see people killed. I suspect the cretin that signed that piece of paperwork probably works for London Underground now. (He or she is probably striking over conditions too). The game got under way and West Ham, players and supporters alike, were as vapid and drained of confidence as their current form has suggested. Arsenal and Robin van Persie might have scored twice in the opening eight minutes. Sagna`s cross was glanced on by van Persie, Upson failed to deal with the clearance and as the ball skated slowly across the six yard box, van Persie back heeled towards goal but was blocked by Ilunga. It was van Persie again on seven minutes who was the first to test a goalkeeper, receiving Diaby`s pass on the left the Dutchman unleashed a rising left footed drive which Green palmed over the bar. It would prove to be third time lucky then for Arsenal`s marksman on sixteen minutes. Diaby again angled a smart ball to Sagna on the right, Banger amazingly managed his second decent delivery of the game (like London Buses, you wait eons for a good Sagna cross then he provides several in one game), Green grasped desperately at thin air but missed the ball entirely and van Persie showed good poise and concentration to watch the ball all the way onto his feet and stay alert enough to tap in a simple left footed finish. I would have been very easy for him to switch off and assume Green was going to collect the ball. An Arsenal player not switching off and taking it easy is cause for raucous celebration on the streets of North London nowadays.

But Arsenal were still displaying the familiar old frailties at the back, Mark Noble`s free kick hit the wall, but the ball spun clear to Noble again and his dinked cross was met with a Carlton Cole header that drifted just wide. However, the home side didn`t appear to have the gumption or the confidence to seize upon those weaknesses and Arsenal were soon two goals up, van Persie`s swinging corner should have been a relatively simple take for Green as the ball was whipped into his six yard box, but William Gallas rose highest to nod the ball into the roof of the net via Scott Parker`s head. Two goals to the good at a difficult away ground and Arsenal actually looked for a minute as though they were a side with serious title pretensions. At half time, Lord Lowe turned to me and asked, "How do you see this going now?" My reply was that, though I didn`t expect it to happen, a final score line of 2-2 would not surprise me in the slightest given Arsenal`s penchant for tossing away leads combined with their refusal to learn their lessons. Familiarity breeds contempt and this morning I feel incredibly contemptuous towards the players of our club that sully the affix "professional" footballers.

Arsenal were coasting in the second half and could have scored a third when Cesc Fabregas` dipping shot whistled just wide from twenty five yards. Carlton Cole had a swivel and shot sail well over the bar as the Gunners began to relax. Arshavin`s shot was parried by Green at the other end, but a mixture of show boating and complacency saw Arsenal misplace the final ball in the myriad of attacks which broke down in the second half. Apparently, tossing away a lead at Birmingham and throwing away the Premiership title, tossing away a lead at Anfield and throwing away the Champions League a month later, throwing away a two goal lead in injury time against your deadliest rivals and then, oh let me see now, throwing away a lead on Tuesday night, (TUESDAY NIGHT!) isn`t a sufficient enough indication for this bunch of dribbling dunces not to allow complacency to set in. The warning signs have been there all season, allowing Blackburn and Birmingham to be tougher matches than they should have been; the horrible arrogance of the first half an hour in Liege, the psychological cowardice at Old Trafford in the second half. Creativity and self destruction often go hand in hand and Arsenal seem adept at contriving new and thrilling ways of self destructing at every opportunity. I`ve seen less talented Arsenal sides than this one, but I can`t recall one this infuriatingly stupid. I often wonder if they have the intellectual capacity to wipe their own arses at times.

With the introduction of Diamanti, the home side had something of a catalyst, prepared to actually try and get at Arsenal`s back line- even with some speculative efforts. They finally had someone willing to support Carlton Cole and Arsenal simply didn`t get the memo, largely leaving Song and Diaby alone against onrushing West Ham attacks, desperately trying to keep hold of the rope and allow our defence to remain intact. So when West Ham won a dubious free kick after Zavon Hines ran into Diaby then proceeded to pull him to the floor, there was a grim inevitability about what was to follow. Mannone massively misjudged Diamanti`s curling free kick, palming it back out into his six yard box, inviting Carlton Cole to stoop and head in the rebound. The Hammers had the bit between their teeth whilst Arsenal still had their thumbs in their arses. Scott Parker should have been booked after charging into the area and throwing himself to the floor over William Gallas` third leg. I guess a penalty area dive is only an atrocity when committed against persecution complex ridden Scots on free to air terrestrial television.

But West Ham did get their spot kick on 80 minutes, Carlton Cole moved onto the edge of Arsenal`s area, shielded the ball with his back to goal and an untidy challenge from behind by Alex Song yielded a penalty which Diamanti duly dispatched. It was a shame for Song who seemed to be one of the few Arsenal players who took the second half seriously as a contest, though he gave away the penalty with an inexperienced and needless challenge, there are guiltier Gunners than he this morning. His deputy Denilson can`t come back soon enough. The goals conceded statistics with Denilson in the side compared to without him over the last eighteen months are too stark to ignore- particularly away from home. There were still further drams to come; Scott Parker was given his marching orders after two cynical pieces of play within minutes of one another inviting two bookings. Arsenal threw on Bendtner and Eduardo in the hope of rescuing themselves. But in injury time it was our most prolific striker of all guilty of a harrowing miss. Fabregas played a perfectly measured pass to Sagna on the right, once again he delivered an inch perfect cross which was destined for van Persie`s forehead, but he headed straight at Green from close range. Often headers are more successful when they are instinctive and thoughtless, that the cross was so accurate and the marking so slack was ironically his undoing.

The final whistle went and once again, the players had to be ordered to execute the basic courtesy of acknowledging those of us that had paid astronomical sums for a ticket. Mind you, the team show the intelligence of small school children often enough that I suppose it`s no great surprise they have to be treated as such and that basic manners still haven`t filtered through. Simply the players ought to be stung with embarrassment this morning at being so blood curdlingly dumb to throw away simple victories twice in five days- especially as the examples I have given enough should have been enough to inoculate them for life from such crass idiocy. Doubtless though, they will wander into training again this morning, be told their shit doesn`t stink and we`ll see this sort of thing happen again and again. Eh Arsene, what`s the French for "once bitten twice shy?" ultimately, such aberrations reveal why we don`t have a prayer of winning the league, despite the weaknesses of the other members of the Top Four quadruplet. When put under pressure we wilt like sunflowers in November. When put under no pressure, we invite it onto ourselves. The shotgun is always cocked and never far away from the temple. Vincent van Gogh chopped off his own ear, Virginia Woolf drowned herself, Tennessee Williams choked to death on a paper cup, Madame Bovary necked arsenic, Kurt Cobain shot himself. Arsenal are in good company when it comes to these creative powerhouses. (Though technically, Madame Bovary was fictional). We toss away easy victories with cheerful disdain, as if recognising that using three strikers when two goals up away from home with twenty minutes to go is not strictly necessary is somehow beneath us and tracking back and defending calmly and easily is something that those Italians do and unbecoming of our artistry. We`re football`s answer to the Romantic Movement. If Coleridge or Wordsworth were alive today, they`d give up their country homes and pen insights from the Holloway Road. In nearly tossing away games against Birmingham and Blackburn in recent weeks, Wenger has used the apologist phrase "that`s a consequence a bit of our philosophy." Our philosophy too often veers on the interests of the neutral and not the team. I`m not advocating long ball football because it wouldn`t work for us, nor am I asking for us to change our free flowing style, but an ounce of fucking common sense when two goals up away from home is hardly a crime against art. The midfield simply could not get a grip on the game when West Ham came into the game because the front three were ambling and refusing to help, the goalkeeper does not yet have the requisite experience or trust to push his defensive line up. We also don`t have a midfield combination solid enough to replace what Denilson and Song bring us as a duo. I think Diaby has played quite well in his recent run in the side but we can`t replicate that chemistry and don`t hunt in packs for the ball as Denilson and Song do. Ultimately, Arsenal`s crime- a repeat offence- was unforgivable and one I would not expect from a League Two side. Still, we kept a few television viewers loosely entertained, and that`s what it`s all about right?LD.

Team: 24.MANNONE, 3.SAGNA, 10.GALLAS, 5.VERMAELEN, 22.CLICHY, 17.SONG, 4.FABREGAS(c), 2.DIABY (9.Eduardo '82), 27.EBOUE (52.Bendtner '82), 23.ARSHAVIN, 11.v.PERSIE. Unused: 1.Almunia, 8.Nasri, 16.Ramsey, 18.Silvestre.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday October 26 2009

Time: 10:49AM

Your Comments

Stinging critique, LD. Its October - and you heard me say it right away - we don't have a prayer of winning anything. Not because of not having the talent but because they don't have the attitude of winners.
Sajit
too right...absolutely no excuse whatsover as to why this team cannot learn from its mistakes...i would be ashamed if i made the same mistake twice let alone repeatedly,as this collective mass of egos seemed to do....do they practice at being stupid or does it come naturally
fran merida
*whatsoever
fran merida
So frustrating. We could of been 3 points behind Chelsea with a game in hand.
paul_ownz
I was so wound up after the game yesterday but in the cold light of day today I think there was an air of inevitability! We will have worse results than this one this season. This year though, everyone seems to be slipping up so it doesn't mean we're out of it. I am worried about the derby though, considering what happened last year!
navydave
Lets' face it lads. With a team as ridiculously stupid as this lot we are screwed. Coasting for 30 minutes is fine as long as you DO SOME BLUDDY DEFENDING. LD, great write up, spot on.
Gunnerman
As LD has said, there have been plenty of lessons served up in the past for our players to learn that you have to work hard right up until the final whistle, whatever the score line. Unfortunately we have a reputation for porosity and teams will not lie down and die against us. Wenger has publicly warned the players that serious title contenders do not miss “major opportunities” and I think this could help to get the message across. But only the good Lord knows why the players can’t work it out for themselves. The “Braindeads” are indeed back in town.
Sir Henry
"this morning I feel incredibly contemptuous towards the players of our club that sully the affix 'professional' footballers." -- glad to see a blogger write that out explicitly, because it's exactly how I feel. After yesterday's game, I and two of my fellow gooners who watched the game with me didn't say a word for a couple of minutes. And then I piped up with "I really really hate these players" and the other shouted too loudly in agreement, as if they'd been afraid to say the words outright. What an incredibly stupid, ridiculous result. There's simply no excuse for it. The ref's dodgy decisions are irrelevant. This a trophy-winning team, Arsene??? It's no good blaming Mannone. He's young, inexperienced, it's inevitable he'll make mistakes. He's actually done pretty well so far given his limitations, given the fact that he's got a bunch of unreliable, clueless brats in front of him. Blame the manager or his lack of finances for the choices we have in that position. We've conceded a lot of very cheap goals based on individual errors. And these players never learn their lessons, time and time again. That's because they've got no older heads alongside them to shout at them and tell them to wake the hell up and do what they have to do to win the game. We could be 3 pts ahead of City right now instead of just 1. Pathetic, absolutely pathetic.
jaelle
LD you forgot Villa away last year in the list of dumb ass performances by the "invisibles" (when the going gets tough). We dont have one player at the club who is willing to get hold of a crucial period in a game and steady the ship, we have replaced a few of the invincibles talent wise but we have replaced none as men. We have no lauren, no Henry, Vieira, Seaman or Lehmann guys who when they have performed badly or made mistakes come back twice the player as soon as they have a chance to put things right. When Eboue gets in his 5th good situation and shoots from a crossing angle who is ripping in to him? When Arshavin is refusing to track back who is tearing him a new one? The only player who dared do this was Gallas and the players sobbed into their gucci hankies and got him replaced as captain.
iceman10
That's a good point about Gallas. He was ill advised in going public with what he said, but do many people actually believe he was wrong? I'm minded of Ljungberg's debut when he scored against United, to put us 3-0 up with eight minutes left. Two mins after scoring, he didn't track back and Giggs created a chance and Winterburn got hold of him and read him the riot act. You're probably right iceman, this lot would go sobbing to daddy in the same circumstance. Jesus, van Persie got the bloody club lawyer to release a statement when someone stamped on him which epitomises how childish this team can be.
Little Dutch
Mind you the club lawyer isn't as busy anymore since David Hillier left! ;-)
navydave
LD, I think most (or many) gooners were in total agreement with the content of Gallas' comments, just not his public airing of them. While I agree that wasn't very bright of him, I frankly wasn't too upset about that either.
jaelle
He'd have a nice selection of Luis Vuitton handbags if he were still here.
Little Dutch
Before we start comparing the invincibles, lets not forget that they dropped points in similarly foolish circumstances..away at leicester and then at bolton in consecutive seasons..also there was the two goal lead thrown away(perhaps intentionally?) at *****e hart lane to trick the spuds into thinking that our title triumph had been prevented... despite damning evidence, I'm not about to give up on this team just yet..past title successes are littered with examples of our ability to halt potential slides..however, how many goals have we conceded from set pieces this season?...
Anon 1
"how many goals have we conceded from set pieces this season?..." - I think it's about 7.
jaelle
Spot on LD. Great write up, and I fear that nothing is going to change. There are stark signs out there that this team lacks common sense. Its a shame, coz this team can do the difficult things, but fail with the simple things (which separate title winners). This team deserves every bit of criticism, and Wenger has to take a lot of responsibility. He needs to rip into this team, asap. What is Cesc doing about this, as captain?
prits
I think we missed Rosicky. he missed last two game we draw both. also all the games he started this season we won. i also think AW has to take part of the blame by not making changes. you know when you are two goals up in the 60th minute, you have to bring in someone who wants to prove his worth for the team and nick a goal or somthing. peace
collow
A word about Cesc. He looks good when the team are comfortable but what about when the team are not? Shouldnt he be taking the game by the scruff of its neck? He is captain for a reason and when the team really need him - I see him stepping back rather than stepping up and taking charge. Keane vs Juve 99 - that is the kind of inspiration this team needs and currently there is none in the team to provide it. Probably if Wenger had gone for someone like Vieira - but he is too stubborn to do that. We need winners , not showboaters.
Sajit
One player (Rosicky) is hardly going to make a collective difference to the attitude of the team. I'm pretty certain, that even with Rosicky in the side, this same performance will be repeated sometime later in the season.
prits
Going by the unanimous consensus here “stupid” and “lacking in common sense” seemed apt descriptions of the team at the moment. It thus surprised me that we the fans who are supposedly the “enlightened” ones could suggest that “…Doubtless though, they will wander into training again this morning, be told their ***** doesn`t stink and we`ll see this sort of thing happen again and again…” Does anyone seriously believe that AW, behind closed doors, will not review the match and knock some senses into the players’ heads? I’m sure he did that after the AZ match, but apparently it didn’t work and perhaps a stronger dosage is required this time.
Temasek
One glance on this page and it would appear that we are a club in a massive crisis. I was frustrated too and I expected similar sentiments here but the one-sided and overwhelming focus on the negative aspects of the team surprised me. Aren’t there no positives to take away from upton park? I thought we were good value for the 2-goal lead so the ability and talent of the team shouldn’t be taken away. As for the attitude aspect, I believe the team heard the fans loud and clear and we just have the place the trust in AW in righting the wrongs again. Of all the negative vibes we are not that far behind our rivals. If man city, villa and us make the most of the game in hand, there would only be 4-points separating the top 7 sides. None of these rivals, Chelsea and man u included, are flawless so it’s down to who best minimises its weaknesses and assert its strengths over the course of the season.
Temasek
I don't think this is an example of overwhelming negativity for all things to do with the club, just a frank expression of anger at a quite unforgivable repetition of past stupidities. I think we should give up on them learning their lessons in truth, they've done this so many times in massive, massive games and it still hasn't taught them, so what evidence is there to believe it will be sorted? The fact that we keep tossing leads away under so little pressure and refusing to learn indicates either a lack of motivation or a lack of intelligence. Unfortunately, whichever one of those it is, it's endemic and almost impossible to solve. The frustration is that Arsenal really have a chance this season, the Premiership has effectively turned into a "tallest dwarf" competition, so our defensive deficiencies might not be as harmful as they've been in the past. But regular refusal to concentrate and respect opponents and apply the very, very basic principles of the game is a flaw that will deny us prosperity in the long term. Whatever Wenger has tried to do to solve this problem in the last two years, it hasn't worked.
Little Dutch
I don't think that this is a problem that can really be described as endemic. It might have happened a little too often for comfort over the last couple of seasons but it isn't really that common an occurence given the number of games played. To some extent though it's a risk with the way we play. We are always going to look for the 3rd or 2nd goal when winning 1-0 or 2-0/2-1 would be enough for other teams. That might just increase our chances of winning more games than drawing which, in this league at this level, is what it is all about.
Amos.
With the exception of the Spurs game last year, I don't think any of the myriad of dropped leads in comfortable games has been about getting another goal. (Against Spurs we had a corner at 4-3 which Fabregas stupidly lumped into the box in the 92nd minute). At Birmingham we messed about in our area, at Liverpool we lost concentration, at Villa we got complacent, in Alkmaar we got complacent, against West Ham we got complacent. None of those goals conceded saw us caught on the break whilst attacking, they were all mindless, stupid errors borne from a lack of concentration (think Flamini and Clichy trying to play football tennis in their own area at Brum, Villa having more playuers in our box from a long throw in the 92nd minute than us, Toure catching flies when Liverpool lumped a long ball to Babel, leaving Gael Clichy to mark two players taller than him in the penalty area in the last minute in Alkmaar). I don't think this is about being too attacking, just not careful enough, which is a scarsely forgivable mistake at the top level. When repeated ad infinitum, it becomes criminal and unprofessional.
Little Dutch
Although to be fair, West Ham was slightly different. I dont think it was complacency for the 1st goal. Hines ran in to Diaby and somehow got a freekick & Manone is playing out of his depth as was shown with his attempted save. As for the penalty, was it really a penalty?
paul_ownz
It probably wouldn't have been a foul outside the box and wouldn't have been awarded as a penalty to an away side or if it had happened early in the game but there was contact and the ref would have felt obliged to give it in the context of the stage the game was at. Song should have been more careful which rather makes LD's point for him I suppose.
Amos.
Its funny how sometimes when a penalty is not given we say, 'if it was outside the box it would probably be given as a foul and othertimes when a penalty is given we say outside it wouldnt of been given.
paul_ownz
I only say that because I don't think that Cole would have gone down outside the box and there wasn't enough in the contact to bring him down.
Amos.
It wasnt about the circumstances of the goal. Against Brum, it was an unfortunate penalty. Similarly, there may be several excuses, but the main criticism is becoming complacent and not killing off the game with another goal when we had the chance. If we cannot score the goal, then be more cautious defensively. we can bemoan our bad luck, but for how much longer? There are simply no more excuses.
prits
If we are more cautious defensively then we are less likely to score another goal. It's a judgement whether you sit back and trust your luck or go forward and try and create your own luck. Whatever stance we adopted wouldn't necessarily have prevented either goal.
Amos.
It took me over 24hrs to shake off the disappointment, of the West Ham result. It was like a dark rain cloud followed me around. How the Hell did we not end up with those 3pts! I hope that Arsene torn into the players after that game!
hackneyval
Our best form of defence is attack which requires a positive state of mind throughout the game. We steam into the opposition and score the goals and the impetus is lost because it is too easy. Our modus operandi doesn’t allow stalwart defensive displays as our quality is in the middle and up the front, not at the back. So where do we get the drive from? It needs to happen on the pitch so maybe Cesc should give up the captaincy and hand it to The Verminator. I think he is more than capable of placing rockets in the appropriate orifices when the situation needs it. He’s already done it to RVP after all.
Sir Henry
when it comes to penaltys...dont give them the opportunity to win one...its that simple....its the same as drinking and driving,if you dont want to risk losing your license,dont drink and drive. therefore,dont make any attempt to tackle or go for the ball when your in the box, just shield the player...because the player will go down if any contact is made and the ref will give a penalty...whats so frustrating is that this is a very obvious and simplistic rule,that professional footballers dont seem able to comprehend
fran merida
While much has been said about what a great signing Vermaelen is, is this really borne out by the number of goals we are conceding as a team? I think he looks an awesome player, but like Gallas, perhaps he needs to focus on defending more rather than scoring goals. I'm still dreaming of how good a Hangeland-Vermaelen partnership would be.
krismon1
 

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