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Arsenal 1 Manchester United 3

In the pub prior to the match, I remarked to Lord Lowe that strangely, I didn`t feel one bit apprehensive about this game. His reply was that neither did he and that perhaps that was an implicit admission that deep down we never genuinely believed in Arsenal`s ability to run a close title race. It wasn`t even half time when that feeling had edged its way from the subconscious and manifested itself in the form of frustrated sighs and rolling eyes. The Premiership`s most prolific choke artists were back in town. It`s a familiar old story by now, with the focus of attention and pressure not veering towards N5, Arsenal are capable of stringing a good run together. The second they are whispered about as contenders or the pressure of a big game rears its head, spectacular implosion ensues. I`m not talking about your car bonnet blowing up on the M6 implosion; I`m talking, Jimi Hendrix choking up his own pelvis bone in a drug fuelled frenzy on the living room floor style implosion. In reality, there is little to choose in quality between Arsenal and United nowadays. But psychologically, there is a canyon sized chasm.

The game began in a quite surreal fashion. United had obviously expected the home side to start brightly as home sides are usually wont to do, so they adjusted accordingly, awaiting the avalanche that never materialised. United were never made to earn their vast superiority in this game, we presented the impetus to them on a silver platter. No closing down of players, no tackling, no desire for possession whatsoever, United almost seemed embarrassed at first. They had the baffled reaction of a man who had just been caught in bed with another man`s wife, only to see the cuckolded husband cheerily offer the love rat a cup of tea. There was only one player that looked even vaguely out of short trousers for Arsenal and that was Andrey Arshavin. That`s not to say he played well, he didn`t. He was guilty of poor decision making in the area time and again, but hell, he was having a go and didn`t look quite so much like a rabbit caught in headlights. He latched onto Wes Brown`s poor headed clearance and lashed an early shot just wide. But United sensed they could get some change out of Arsenal`s weak left side, which explains why Nani was deployed ahead of Valencia. It was Nani who easily beat a cumbersome looking Clichy on the right hand side and whipped in a low cross which was cleared by Gallas. Arsenal flickered briefly and threatened to score when Arshavin received the ball in the centre circle and powered his way past Wes Brown. Arsenal`s two invisible men Nasri and Rosicky were nowhere to be seen in support, so Arshavin was forced to go it alone, curling his shot just wide of van der Sar`s far post. It was clear by now that if Arsenal were going to produce anything of note, Arshavin would have to do it on his own. Nasri and Rosicky were about as useful as inflatable dartboards. Neither attacked, neither defended, neither particularly wanted the ball. They hid for the whole match.

Fabregas motored through United`s midfield, evaded Scholes` risible attempt to hack him down- typical Scholes and typically he got away without censure-, Fabregas fed Arshavin who miscued his shot horribly. From there the Gunners truly went into Salmon Rushdie mode, retreating into a secret location for fear of slaughter. Their whereabouts it`s still a mystery, so if anyone has seen the Arsenal football team this morning, please do get in touch with the missing persons bureau. United fired an ominous warning when Ji Sung Park`s cross found Nani on the back post and his shot deflected wide. The goal was coming and United despatched a killer blow on 33 minutes. Nani out on the right hand side again fronted by Nasri and Clichy, in keeping with the unfalteringly polite way Arsenal had approached the game, they stood and watched as Nani produced a back heel flick which Nasri and Clichy admired so much that they stood and watched him saunter off. Denilson very much maintained the role of gracious host by waving Nani through to the by line with a movement that I won`t even call a "challenge", Nani dinked the ball towards the back post, Almunia could not adjust his feet in time and could only tip the ball into his own net. It was academic really; Ji Sung Park was completely unmarked on the back post anyway.

Just four minutes later, the contest was brought to an abrupt end. Arsenal had a corner, Arshavin tried to tee up Gallas in the area, United had a wall of defenders in his way and won back possession. What followed was a brutal expose for Arsenal`s blasé approach to defending and United`s clinical attacking. Rooney switched a low pass to Nani who found himself in acres of space on the right, careering forward towards goal with only really Vermaelen appearing to sprint back. Denilson sort of jogged, Song ambled, the rest frankly, didn`t bother. As last man back, Sagna took up an awful position in no man`s land as Nani advanced, challenging neither Nani in possession, nor Rooney who was sprinting in behind. Denilson casually allowed Rooney to sprint in behind him as Nani played a simple pass and Rooney lashed the ball into the bottom corner. I remember when Arsenal used to counter attack like that. Not sufficiently scorned by that first lesson, the away side almost undid Arsenal on another soaring breakaway. Once again, the likes of Song, Rosicky and Nasri made no attempt to track back as Rooney made his way to the by line and pulled the ball back to Scholes, he controlled and shifted the ball to Nani who should have scored, but pulled his shot wide. Song, in his self assumed role as a forward player, nearly grabbed a consolation on half time, picking up Fabregas` back heel flick and bundling his way through, only to shoot narrowly wide. At half time, I remarked that I would happily take 2-0 as a final score. If there were more goals to be had in the game, they didn`t look like coming from timid, frightened Arsenal.

Eight minutes into the second half, United had the third goal that their supremacy warranted. It was a remarkably simple goal that had shades of Pienaar`s goal for Everton three weeks ago. Denilson conceded possession, Fletcher knocked the ball over the top of Denilson`s head and Park Ji Sung could scarcely believe his luck as he was left unattended to saunter in on goal. Denilson jogged back, Song trundled, I honestly could not tell you where Nasri and Rosicky were- they didn`t seem to be doing much attacking, so I`m at a loss to work out why they weren`t tracking back and defending either. Clichy politely stood to one side as Park ambled through on goal to make it 3-0. A spectacularly calamitous goal to concede. Reviewing it on highlights packages, I`m embarrassed that a team that regularly qualifies for the knockout stages of the Champions League could defend so dreadfully. Have Europe`s strike forces no shame? The Gunners made a good fist of defending in an even more laughable fashion on yet another United breakaway. This time Carrick`s aimless clearance found Rooney in the centre circle. Arsenal thought it would be a good idea to stand off one of the best strikers in the world and give him time to turn and size up a good run at the backline. Eboue kept up Arsenal`s impeccable manners by falling over like an extra in a Benny Hill sketch as Rooney ran at him. Fortunately, Rooney was presumably too embarrassed to expose us so shamefully again by whipping the ball wide from close range.

The home side did manage to bring a semblance of respectability to the score line with ten minutes left. Nasri`s cross was not convincingly cleared by Jonny Evans and Thomas Vermaelen hooked an acrobatic volley goalwards which ricocheted into the net via Wes Brown`s calf. I can`t recall too many Arsenal goals over the years that haven`t even brought me to my feet. At this point, Arsenal actually began to play. They weren`t excellent, but they looked kind of not bad. Which in the context of the game was a drastic improvement. It was typical of this team, when the pressure is off and the chances of recovery are slim to none, we turn it on. Had the scores gone to 3-2, we would only have filled our pants and tossed it all away again. A Fabregas corner saw Theo Walcott unmarked in the area, but he headed woefully wide under no pressure. The comedy reel continued apace when Eboue`s back pass to Almunia was met with yet another in a long line of Almunia shanks. This one fell straight to the feet of Nani, fortunately, Vermaelen roared back with a saving tackle. Gallas lost his bearings in the six yard area and headed a close range effort wide from five yards, whilst Rooney shot wide from close range when United produced yet another counter attack with no Arsenal players tracking back, blah, blah, blah etc. In the end, I was grateful for 1-3, it could and should have been more.

I guess this is the part where I`m supposed to say something positive? Well there really isn`t one single positive to garner from that at all, bar the fact that we got away with 1-3. In reality, the gulf between United and Arsenal isn`t as big as the game suggests. But we allowed United to be much, much better than us. We practically force fed them the impetus in the first half by standing off United when they had the ball. Review the game in your own minds, try and think of a time during the 90 minutes when you saw a convincing challenge from an Arsenal player. No, me neither. Frankly, the players once again looked absolutely inhibited by the occasion. The manager spoke of his massive regret that we couldn`t make more of a game of it in the Champions League semi final last year. It`s obviously not a regret shared by the team as they willingly rolled over and asked to have their tummies tickled again. Arsenal are a much better side than that and our players are much better than that. The difference in attitude was alarming in the respective counter attacks of the two teams. United poured forward in numbers whilst Arsenal players ambled back as a token gesture more than anything. Arsenal had a break on themselves in the second half, Fabregas drove through midfield alone, Nasri and Rosicky didn`t join him, neither did any of his midfield colleagues (it was possibly the only time in the match when Song was actually behind the ball). He forlornly ploughed forward only to find two United players snapping at his heels. Compare and contrast with Denilson`s "tackle2 on Nani for the first goal, or Song having a brief constitutional with our centre forwards whilst United broke away for the second goal. Arsenal were polite in their tackling, insofar as you can call it tackling. Nasri and Rosicky did not track back and defend, nor did I see much evidence of them breaking forward to attack. Our naivety in defence was lamentable when one considers the lessons we ought to have learned in our Champions League defeat to the same opposition. But this is a point I have made several times, our players only have experience of being comprehensively turned over in big matches, so to expect them to learn how to win them is a fool`s errand. A summary of our team? Almunia was awful, Sagna was below average, Clichy was spectacularly bad, Gallas and Vermaelen were O.K, Song was hideous, Denilson tried his best to be even worse, Fabregas was foiled by Carrick (you`ve the suspicion that he might have had more joy if Nasri and Rosicky had turned up and given him an option once in a while), Nasri and Rosicky were pathetic and cowardly and Arshavin, on any other day would have been utterly awful such was his decision making and finishing, but actually came out looking like one of our better players for no other reason than the fact that you noticed he was there. It was a thoroughly disappointing display because the players sold themselves, their manager and the supporters well short and the label of "choke artists" will follow them until they can usurp it on the pitch. Next Sunday would be a good start. I won`t hold my breath.LD.

1.ALMUNIA, 3.SAGNA (27.Eboue `72), 10.GALLAS, 5.VERMAELEN, 22.CLICHY, 17.SONG, 15.DENILSON (14.Walcott `61), 4.FABREGAS©, 8.NASRI, 7.ROSICKY (52.Bendtner `72), 23.ARSHAVIN. Unused: 16.Ramsey, 18.Silvestre, 21.Fabianski, 30.Traore.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday February 1 2010

Time: 12:08PM

Your Comments

Why? Now the gang will come out with cries we wont win anything championship football next year. Teams do behave like this football matches we are supposed to win we dont. Manu have the sign on us, we did 2007/08. I will wait to see what happens next match. Football is bloody great, wonder what is next in store for us. Top write up, what was (in your opinion) Theo's and Nicks performance?
As I read the bit about Arshavin powering past Brown and Nasri nowhere to be seen in support the video highlights of that action were showing on the front page. There's Nasri busting a lung alongside Cesc to get into the penalty box in support of Arshavin. I reckon Rosicky made a few good challenges while he was on the pitch. I don't think anyone hid in the game nor did anyone fail to turn up. They just weren't turning up in the right places at the right time.
I think there were an awful lot of hiders out there. The furstrating thing is I think that might be the weakest United defence we've ever played against, indeed they didn't look comfortable when put under any kind of pressure. They were there for the taking. I can't ever remember an Arsenal match where, when in possession, I looked around and thought, "Where are all the attackers?" and then when we lost the ball, looked up and thought, "Where are all the defenders?" We looked like we were playing with seven men. The really hard thing to stomach is that United didn't have to work hard to assert dominance. Rooney and Evra apart, I think there are weaknesses in that side we were capable of exploiting. We didn't even try and you could almost smell the stench of fear in everything Arsenal did. It's a recurring theme. United and Chelsea are better sides than us, but not to the extent that they should be able to come to our home ground and routinely hump us so easily. We're better than that but apparently have no intent to show it.
Little Dutch
spot on report. amos i think sometime its ok to say we were just rubbish and didnt look up for it. Yes their were a few good tackles by some when they could be bothered but overall not enough commitment, drive, belief or hunger were shown. Being at the game neither nasri or rosicky tracked back like they should of. I think we are playing with too many players who are not match fit or have been rushed back too early. Clichy, nasri, rosicky, denilson,bendtner, walcott all apply tol that theory
spot on report. amos i think sometime its ok to say we were just rubbish and didnt look up for it. Yes their were a few good tackles by some when they could be bothered but overall not enough commitment, drive, belief or hunger were shown. Being at the game neither nasri or rosicky tracked back like they should of. I think we are playing with too many players who are not match fit or have been rushed back too early. Clichy, nasri, rosicky, denilson,bendtner, walcott all apply tol that theory
Walcott and Bendtner's performances probably don't bear judgement given the situation they came on into. Bendtner looked rusty which is to be expected, Theo tried to make things happen I guess but he also fell over his own feet at one point. He was also completely unwilling to do any tracking back. I wouldn't expect many wingers to get much change out of a full back the quality of Evra, when 3-0 down to the champions, it's not the best arena in which to demonstrate your talents. I would expect to see NB62 start next Sunday because he can handle the physical test that Carvalho and Terry will offer better than Eduardo will. But frankly what we do upfront will probably be a moot point next Sunday, with Drogba and Anelka let loose on this lot, it'll be all about actually trying to have more than one outfield player in our own half of the pitch once in a while.
Little Dutch
I feel that we are so determined to prove ourselves in these games that we lose the composure to control the game. I really don't think anyone was hiding but as to where all the defenders were they were attacking and the attackers were having to keep one eye on where the defenders should have been. Take a look at the 3rd goal and Nasri is as close to Park as anyone. Take a look at the 2nd and Nasri is also getting back into the defensive third. What do we have full backs for? Does it make sense for them to both get forward at the same time? Especially when one or more of the centre backs is also playing away. I'd say that we lost our defensive shape but it's hard to see that we had any to lose in this game.
We were dreadful and that's it. It happens, teams have ***** games. It has happened before and I'm sure it will happen again. What I'd like to mention here is the massive hysteria that these kind of 'big games' produce amongst Arsenal's (everything but faithful). This is probably the only Arsenal website in the whole world where people actually think before they say/write something. It wasn't long ago that this team was holding its own against the rest of the top 4 but failed to put away teams like Fulham, Stoke, Hull, etc. and everyone was bitching about that. Now, on the other hand, we've lost only to Sunderland and City (outside of top4) and people are bitching again. Before this run of 4 games which will, according to the media, "define our season" for the umpteenth time the season, I thought 6 points would have been a fine return (2Ws and 2Ls, or 1W and 3Ds), I'm still moderately positive about our chances to challenge for the title.
i still cant believe that arsene has money to spend and he is not bringing in a striker.. so what, let us pay over the odds but let us not lose this opportunity to bring home the trophy especially when we were doing so well and need to win our next two games??? cmon arsene, please!!!
I've got to say that I think Wenger is partly to blame for this in his selection. Rafel was awful against Belemy and when Arsharvin finally got out on the left he looked like he had the beating of him every time. Why were we not targeting this from the beginning!! Denilson is obviously not fit and quite frankly I still think we are another quality midfielder short of being a title winning team. I get fed up with the excuse that these players will be good enough and we don't want to stifle their development. **** that, if we buy Di Rossi for example and Diaby is better then we play Diaby. If these players are good enough they will play but the naiev way we approach these games again and again shows that they clearly are not. When are they gonna realise if you keep opening up against good team, you will get punished.
arseneknows, you bring up another topic that has puzzled me ever since this myth about AW not willing to spend (or pay over the top) broke out sometimes during our second trophyless season. It's the 1st of February and I have been looking through the squad lists of the top European teams for a striker that would fit AFC. I was led by the following criteria: 1. Availability 2. Price 3. Goodenougness. Can you name three strikers that fulfill all three criteria that Wenger should go for? Is there a talent like AA23 outhere that can come in and start banging them in from the off and who is better than Vela, Eddy, NB, and Theo?
I fail to see how having another striker would have prevented Evertona dn United raping us on the counter attack. We're the highest scorers in then league, I can't believe there is this enormous clamour for a new striker when I think we have much more urgent deficiencies. But the media have told everyone we need a big striker, so everyone laps it up.
Little Dutch
I would be interested to know what Wenger’s game plan was. This performance was not a “one-off” because we saw it against recently against Chelsea and last season in the semi of the CL against United. Surely he would have learnt a few things and tried to correct the failings he saw in those two encounters. So you have to ask yourselves how it could happen again. He said he was disappointed with the players – why? Is it simply that the players are not carrying out the tactical instructions on the field? We will have to hope that the top two continue their inconsistency through to the end of the season and we have to continue beating the rank and file so it’s not over. We could still be the tallest dwarf in the Premiership.
Sir Henry
Unless the striker was Villa it probably would not have made a difference to yesterday. Also, I get a little fed up with the media's idea that we need a big man up top, just because their big. When we had Adebayor we were unbelievable direct and it did not suit us. We haven't been a team to score from headers since Alan Smith and I'm convinced the team do not practice crossing or headers so a big target man is not going to help us. We need a technical cleaver player up front, maybe not too far from what Rooney is for united or Van Persie was for us.
First of all - a great report as ever LD, as scathingly critical as the team deserves for putting in such a half arsed performance. I seriously could not believe what I was seeing most of the time, it was embarrassing, cringe worthy even. @G4L - thats a tougher one to answer. I could name you plenty of great strikers, most of which we could afford, but of course if you look at how many are actually available, and would be willing to come to Arsenal then the list reduces down to bugger all. It's a tough market this year. We won't see anything until summer I'm sure. I'm still positive, just hugely disappointed at the moment.
We don’t need a striker. We need defensive, tactical nous.
Sir Henry
@LD - fair comment, getting bent over on the counter attack does seem to be a massively obvious failing. Would you put this down to a lack of tactical awareness/intelligence or incompetent personell? Personally, I think the team needs to get it drilled in to them that defensive duties are equally important as attacking ones. The footballing discipline of the side could do with a shot in the arm.
Was speaking to mate yesterday after the game about the whipping boys, i make Denilson number 5 in the last year or so.
I agree with Sir Henry, we need exactly that. We need Denilson to at least try to grab a hold of or in the worst case HACK DOWN Sidibe and get a yellow card when he sees he can keep up with him, same with Clichy and Nani and we need Denilson, Song et al. to actually look behind their jogging arses and see a galloping in form destroyer like Rooney and shift from 2nd to 3rd (if he's got 3rd gear), step and/or tumble by accident in front of him; we need to commit all the little cynical fouls, pushes, pulls and shoves from which we regularly suffer and that actually stop an opponent getting into a dangerous position.
From what i've seen Arshavin is the only person that does that on the regs.
Gunnerman, exactly my thoughts. I could name you all the Torreses and Drogbas in the world, but how many of them are available, affordable (less than 30+ mil.), and could hit the ground running from the off and at the same time better than what we have on the bench (treatment room)? What I'm thinking is since Almunia is past his 'learning' years and is marginally (if at all) better than Fabianski, wouldn't it be plausible to give the Pole a go cause he could actually learn and be useful?
I was thinking just that at the Villa game on Wednesday,. Richard Dunne went teraing up the pitch in the last minute and he went past Denilson to an almost clear route on goal. It being the last minute at 0-0, I was furious that Denilson didn't just take him out and accept the yellow card. In the end, Campbell had to do it on the edge of the box. Fortunately for us he got away with it.
Little Dutch
I noticed that Chelsea were up to their old tricks on Saturday. JT nicely body-checked a Burnley attack to allow his team to re-organise defensively. Ashley Cole feigned injury in Burnley’s penalty area (after he fell over) and the ref duly obliged by halting play just as Burnley attacked into the hole he left. I’m not condoning any of that but it shows a “win at all costs” mentality sadly lacking in our players yesterday.
Sir Henry
LD, it could all be a result of 'you play as you train' thing. If they are not playing physical during the training sessions, this type of behavior creeps in and becomes a habit. It's been a while since we actually heard a story from the training ground how tough is to play against this guy or that guy (e.g. like they spoke of Kolo and Sol in their prime), from what I see the only players that actually do tough are Vermaelen, Sagna and to a certain extent Gallas. The rest are like Bamby's siblings trying not to hurt or offend anyone with their presence.
I dont think Denilson is a whipping boy just a player woefully out of form. Song didnt have his best game and was guilty of trying to force the issue when we needed to settle down and be calm after they took the lead, at least he was showing spirit which many were not. At the start of this season we seemed to be playing with a real focus, making sure we were getting into good defensive positions and playing as a unit, yesterdays defending was a shambles and a real embarrasment for Arsene Wenger and his coaching staff......truly unacceptable.
Fergie has engendered a winning mentality at Man Utd. You can imagine that when a player joins that club just how deep-rooted that winning culture is. It would appear that our focus is about playing the game we love, this tippity-tap football. It's excruciating to be repeatedly torn apart by Man Utd and Chelsea like this. Being turned over like that is the kind of thing that happens to Spurs ffs! You can see the difference Vermaelen has made to this side with his aggression. We're missing that balance - coz we're not going to pass around and outplay them like Iniesta, Xavi and Messi did last year, that's for sure.
I said the same thing about a winning mentality months back, got shot down in flames though cos we don't "know" if we have a winning mentalitiy or not.
after that performance of total ineptitude, my biggest worry is not whether or not we sign anyone during the window, but how many chelsea are going to put past us on sunday, unless a miracle happens by sunday, we could be in for an even bigger stuffing
cornish gooner
Cornish, after the pasting we got yesterday the least we can hopefully expect is that our workrate in midfield will be better and we will work harder when the chavs have the ball. Hope Diaby is fit to play and that Bendtner plays from the start.
Thought Wenger looked subdued during the game. After it, he seemed carefree and not his usual cantankerous self after a defeat. A worrying sign.
Maybe that's because yesterday was the deadline for tax returns Hod? That kind of thing would present stress for your manager so I hear.......
Little Dutch
Hod, its amusing that you say its a worrying sign that AW gave one of his most scathing assessments of our performances ever. It shows an almost comical lack of understanding of the situation. I for one am glad that the team have been given feedback in no uncertain terms by their manager.
as pompey are in dire straits, perhaps we could offload nasri and clichy to them on loan, as on sundays performance they dont seem to want to play for us
cornish gooner
maybe a striker was a little off key subject... but why should arsene give bumper pay raises and large contracts to people (15 on last count, but hwat is the point??) who have not won anything but not buy experienced players during the early part of the transfer window so that they can integrate better for the final run-in?? i know that the club has to be well run, but we have the third highest wage bill in the permiership (after the chavs and manc) and nothing to show for in the last 4 years.. maybe i am just a little frustrated... but i was very upset yesterday.. it was a sense of deja vu.. and you are right LD... we dont seem to realise how important it is to not lose a cup competition.. the performances after the FA cup loss have been very unlike our earlier 9 game winning streak
The contract extensions are an example that the club knows what it is doing. It has appreciated the shift in contract law and tied players down which means a) we keep the team together and b) in case we can't keep our players, we are well protected and in a good position to receive a good fee if they do go. People might contrue it as over rewarding players, but that's just the reality of the game today and the Webster ruling amongst other things means that's the case for every club. People complain that we over reward players, but I know they'd complain even more if we lost someone like Diaby or Denilson for peanuts- as they did when we lost Flamini and Edu on frees.
Little Dutch
deltaforce, with due respect, the worrying sign is that he made no excuses!
With no respet, why are you even here?
With no disrespect, sort your spelling out.
Hod is just a wind up merchant (not a very good 1). He's clearly not a spud because he can spell.
I risent tat ;)
Wenger, in his press conference, alluded to the problems being mental with this team. Too true, only remains to be seen what Wenger can do about it. It was a shocking performance and something that I was hoping not to see (although I half-expected it). This team really does well for a while, and just when the fans get our hopes up, it all comes crashing down due to an abject performance.
Good post prits, though somewhat disconcerting some of you are on the ball.
Now the rant (a month ago) and the consequent debate with Amos and deltaforce doesn't seem to be that irrelevant after all.
Excellent write-up LD. So here we are again. Our annual dose of humiliation from the mancs and the chavs. Prepare yourselves for another dose this coming weekend. Season after season, humiliation after humiliation -- and now both the chavs and the mancs have made our home ground their playground. Gunnerblog has an excellent analysis, esp. the last couple of sentences: What exactly happened to that high pressure, collective closing down of opponents that we saw at the start of the season? Why haven't the coaching staff instilled that mentality in this team consistently? There is something fundamentally wrong with this team mentally, and their training. Stop fixating on buying new players, that is not the main problem. At the end of the game, I saw Gallas embracing his friend on his nat'l team, Evra. It occurred to me right then "I wonder if Gallas has already decided to leave in the summer and has this result reinforced his decision?"
hodtwit, you've already been outed as one of those pathetic spuddies who spends more time posting and thinking about Arsenal than his own team, our failure is more important to you than your own team's success, your posts are laughable.
Hod see Phartman above for witty banter.
As long as you're not getting wound up.
The banter is painfully weak in this one Iceman
The game against the Mancs was humbling, to say the least and I have felt somewhat, numb from the experience after watching the repeat. I feel the team tries too hard against top sides, especially Man U and Chelski, going gung-ho, all-out, thus losing their defensive discipline and getting caught on the counter or by a sucker punch. I would think a change in approach will help; show these teams more respect by staying disciplined, defensively, ensuring our CBs don't both engage in forays up front, even for set plays. At least one must remain behind with one of our quicker players on sentry duty, should we need pace (as we did Sunday). We were more likely to score first, if we made it to the interval with a clean slate; but the lads were so fixated with scoring first that they made school boy errors and made heroes of a side they'll probably beat in a game with little at stake. SAF appeared ready for an onslaught, looking at the number of DMs he had on duty; probably was ready to take a draw or hold us off and look out for breaks. I am happy with Cesc's clarion call to the team as this must be a difficult period for the players; however, it is not over until the fat lady says so. There is still a lot to play for this season. Let us see what the bridge holds, then we take things from there.
Genuinely gutted for you, was hopeing you'd stuff them - my wife had a terrible day as she's also a huge Andy Murray fan...
If Arsenal were a tennis player we would be Tim Henman.
Can see us getting a result at Chelsea, there'll be no pressure on us we've been completely written off now and thus, not on any pedastal.
I was nervous before the game, as I always am especially against Man Utd, and I was trying to stay calm. But the ease in which United were getting at our back line made you think that something was fundamentally wrong. A couple of seasons ago we did okay with a 4-4-2 when Flamini and Cesc in the middle. I'm still not convinced the 4-3-3 is the right formation for us - it makes an attack-oriented side even more vulnerable.
One big difference between us and Man U (apart from them having cojones) is that Fergie will not put up with sub-par performances. I think his players know that if they shirk on effort, their manager will bench them or sell them. Fergie will spend big to get what he needs. But our guys seem to know that they'll get more chances because Arsene believes in their potential. Sometimes this works in our favour - Song, for example, but I feel it undermines a winning mentality. Arsene treats some of our guys like his sons, and seems to care more about them than winning. Which is nice in one sense, but not conducive to winning. I doubt Sir Alex would put up with the kind of performance Denilson has been putting in recently.
Oh, and I can't believe Arsene hasn't learned that playing 4 attacking midfielders just doesn't work. We can't carry both Rosicky and Nasri as wingers. Without Bendtner and Diaby we lack size, but you expect small teams to have speed - we didn't. Walcott, even as bad as he is right now, would have at least provided some pace to stretch their defenders.
Good read from FOD today. Short and to the point.
If Arsenal were a tennis player you would be Anna Kournikova. Good to watch , but no trophies.
Aside from my criticism of Denilson for failing to the basic defensive jobs of tracking attacking player's runs and pressuring the man with the ball, the thing that stood out for most was our total lack of shape. Fluidity is a good thing, if the players have positions from which to be fluid and positions to revert to when we don't have the ball. That wasn't the case yesterday. It's perhaps understandable, so many players coming back from serious time on the sidelines, so few players playing in their natural positions. However, it's a failing of either instruction, preparation or most damningly, discipline. I don't believe for a moment however that you can fault the players endeavour. As Amos has said, Nasri can be seen busting his gut to get back for the third goal, Song, despite his sub par performance, was willing to get into the box (unlike Nasri, Rosicky or Denilson). Fabregas didn't stop trying, nor did Gallas or Vermalean. I won't defend Clichy or Almunia who continue to play as if they were new to these high pressure situations. Someone needs to show Denilson his efforts against Stoke and Utd, and if he doesn't improve his actions of his own accord, then someone needs to get in his ear. It doesn't seem the place for TV5 or Gallas given their histories respectively, but someone senior needs to demand more from this young man, otherwise they will continue to saunter when he should sprint.
Don't condemn this side for lacking spirit either. This is the same team that fought tooth and nail against Everton three weeks ago, and were another 60 seconds away from claiming a winner, despite going behind twice and playing without their skipper and only two strikers. This is the same side that were only an offside position away from claiming an equaliser at OT after snatching defeat from the jaws of victory with a demoralising own goal. This is the same side that came from behind at Anfield. This is the same side that didn't stop trying at Eastlands, despite two stamps going unpunished and calamatous defending from our first choice left back. This squad may lack many things, but spirit is not one of them.
This winning mentality argument is purely specious. By the same argument, we had a winning mentality last season after we beat Chelsea at the Bridge and Utd at home. The examples cited of Terry and Cole being cynical has nothing to do with a more winning mentality and everything to do with experience. They are both seasoned veterans, as is Campbell. Denilson is 20 years old and out of Brazil where arguably defensive cynicism is not tought much if at all. He will pick it up with time, just as Song has done this season. Clichy on the other hand, is a serious disappointment. Nothing to do with winning mentality, these boys want to win as much as anyone else, some of them don't have the defensive tools, positional and big game experience to help the team win.
Hughied - if all what you're saying is right, and I believe you make several good points that I agree with, if it's shape, positional sense and psychological state in question, then surely that points to the management and coaching staff and ultimately Arsene. I don't disagree that Vermaelen, Cesc, Gallas, Arshavin and even Clichy all have a desire and winning mentality. Then what else is it? To me, Fergie (and other teams) have all worked out how to play Arsenal, how to nullify our strengths and exploit our weaknesses. On the other hand, our approach is always to focus on our game, not on the opposition. Fine when we player so-called lesser sides but perhaps against the top teams in England and Europe we should play a more tactical game. Isn't that the way we got to the Champions League final a few years ago?
The basic defensive rule is that when running back you keep running hard until the ball is behind you then you can turn and defend it, I wonder why Denilson and co slowed down before being behind the ball, 2nd rule when your CB goes forward the FB automatically retreats, the moment I saw Galas going forward I had expected Sagna and Song to stay back infact when they did not I told my mate that Manure would score and they did a few seconds after that. My humble opinion whilst watching the match was thaat we were scampering all over the place with no direction. I would have loved to have seen us taking our time and playing our game and being patient gradually growing into the match confidently, instead we went at Manure and they were expecting just that and hit us on the counter. This was obvious the moment I realised that Park and Nani were playing instead of Valencia and Gibbs. It was pretty obvious and our Captain should have warned his lads even if the manager did not. Quite honestly I respect Arsene and am sure these lads would at least learn from this. I was looking forward to a match that we would score first with a patient build up and then we wait for Manure to start running all over the place and get them on the counter ala Villa at home but instead it was the reverse. I realy have no player to blame but would honestly like to see the end of Almunia and Deni is not yet ready. Chin up guys and lets see if we can wrestle some points off the Chavs. we know they play hard and tough so no excuses.
Some good points there phreddy and hughied. Things can only get better from here. Or so one hopes!
good report although arsenal were very poor today think you got a good shot at the title still if results go your way
did any of you get to see the game in 3-D if so what was it like?
Fair points G_Vin. It's possible Wenger has changed his view on tactics over the last few seasons. If so, that could be described as naive. On the other hand, he could be attempting to do a Barca/Brazil and have a style of football that will beat any team. I'm no expert on Barca, but they appeared to play the same style of football against Chelsea and Utd last season as they do week in week out. I'd be reasonably happy with that, no reason it couldn't be successful in England. Problem is, we're missing key players and we've got Denilson trying to do the job of an Iniesta or a Xavi and either unfit Nasri, Walcott or Rosicky doing the job of Messi. In fact, on reflection, we're short many players of doing a convincing Barca.
Interesting point Phreddy, hadn't occurred to me that our attacking style was different to previous games. But you're quite right, we didn't have the patience or gameplan to knock it around. Then again, maybe Utd prevented us from doing that, though we didn't seem to have any trouble at OT with our style of game.
Its clear you need a targetman.Arshavin did what he could but I dont understand why you didnt throw diaby up front to help bully the defence.Manu are the *****test they have been in years.You had twice the quality(minus Rooney) to beat them.Rosicky was useless.You lot never put up a fight against manure,citeh or poo but when its Chelsea woo you're world beaters.If only you can put the same hate in when facing other rivals.You lose cos you respect manu too much but when you play us your sheer hate drives you guys,funny.If man u win the title I blame you.I want the same performance on sunday,Got that? That God Van persie's out
Chelsea24/7, Diaby was injured thats why he did'nt play. Arsenal's overall record against Man U reads Won 59 and lost 70 which is a fine record overall. We have a good record against Citeh too barring the last two seasons but Citeh are yet to come to Arsenal for one final game this season. We have a decent record against Liverpool in the league and beat them earlier this season at Anfield. In fact its against Chelsea that most of our underperformance in the last 5 years has come. In the last 10 league games between Arsenal and Chelsea we have only won twice and have lost 6 times. That is definitely a record which needs to be set straight. Historically though, we have a winning record against Chelsea in the league.
Chokin' Dogs!
Pleased for you Teddy! Is that a hobby or do you get paid for it?
Isn't that what John Terry does....oh no, that's right, he tries to gag dogs doesn't he..........
Little Dutch
I've called RSPCA anyhows, just to be on the safe side.
How different would this game have been with Van Persie on the pitch? I'm sorry to you all, and i know this is isn't going to sink well, but Bedtner simply ISN'T good enough. I know he wasn't on the pitch long and he's back from injury blah blah, give him all the excuses in the world. But he was a disgrace when he came on. He may aswell have been playing for ManU the amount of times he just gave it to them so easily, never even looked like threatening their goal. We had 3 support strikers playing and no out&out striker. We need one and one of class (like RVP) ...i'm going back into my hole now. This defeat was heartbreaking. I thought we'd gotten passed these low performances.
We can't we show up for these big games anymore? We looked like lost boys. Saying that i think we had more chances on goal then them didn't we? Just no one wanted to finish it.
It seems the same old plahyers will get blamed regardless. After we lost to Stoke I saw so much invective from frustrated Gooners having a pop at Almunia, who didn't even play. Seriously, with absolutely zero service at 0-3 down, what on earth was it that you expected Bendtner to do other than be your punch bag because you don't rate him? When he came on at Villa, i.e. a game where our midfield wasn't an abomination, he was comfortably our best player.
Little Dutch
Bendtner does make a difference to our attack; at least, Almunia's persistent long goal kicks make some meaning, with NB52 in front. Besides, our chances of plucking high balls down is best with him around, even as he can make life uncomfortable for most defenders with his akward gait and insistence on going on dribbling runs, when he clearly is not so gifted. Fully fit, Bendtner is key to our play in the run-in to the season's end.
To take the analogies a little further, if the Arse were a pop group they'd be The Glitter Band- once successful, but now spends all the time playing with kids, mostly from abroad.
To continue the analogies and volley them back over the net to win game set and match in straight sets, sp*rs are Alvin Stardust a poor mans Glitter, rather fittingly born Bernard William Jewry in Muswell Hill he had fleeting success in the early 60s, sporadically reappearing every decade to cries of who? He is practically unknown outside of the UK and is viewed as a national joke by everyone inside it. Daniel Levy owns a Stardust wig and will often don the leather trousers to serenade himself with renditions of My coo-ca-choo.
Double fault!!
Shouldn't you be watching the chuckle brothers? It's not often they are given prime time on national telly. Apart from re runs on the comedy channel obviously.
Nikolaisjns. If you ever do stand-up, leave that 'joke' out. It's a bit long and, importantly, NOT FUNNY. Mine is, yours isn't. Now go and take your hypertension pills.
Nothing like blowing your own little trumpet eh usedjohnny? That's the thing about humour it's subjective. You find the topic of child abuse hilarious, I don't particularly. I do stand up all the time btw, do a two hour set about sp*rs. Not only do people roll in the aisles I've witnessed spontaeous defaecation and in two cases now death by laughter. I guess the moral of the story is 'Never underestimate the hilarity of sp*rs'
It appears your fellow posters on VS don't think you're up for the perrier award anytime soon either with comments like 'go to bed johnny' and 'you're a moron' - Shows that spuds can talk some sense occasionally ;)
A legend in his own mind.
Don't get existential know what trouble that caused last time.

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