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We have made progress

We have made progress

Nasri was right last week when he insisted we had made progress as a team and were playing with greater maturity over the season. He was right also to claim that but for an injury blight that even by recent standards was pretty dire maybe that progress would have manifested itself in more definite way than the third place we ultimately achieved.

There are those who will claim that our injuries aren`t just bad luck and that somehow there is some malfunction in our physio or medical teams that plays a primary role in exacerbating if not creating the situation. As the most significant injuries have been impact injuries to key players at key times it`s a pretty hopeless argument to justify. We`ve been unlucky and no matter how many times we were to seek to change our medical team it wouldn`t change that simple fact.

Wenger said earlier in the season that the title would be won with around 86 points. That was still just about achievable even after a run of 6 straight PL wins was cruelly ended by a late fluke goal at Birmingham. The footballing gods hadn`t finished with us even then as the next game, a spirited draw with Barcelona, was to deprive us of the massively influential Fabregas while both Song and Denilson were also destined to play little part in the rest of the season. With only Diaby left, of a quartet that augmented with Ramsey had made up our midfield three, playing a full part then it isn`t a complete surprise that the challenge of winning all 6 remaining PL games proved beyond us. The seven points out of 18 collected left us 11 points short of losing the title to Chelsea on goal difference.

The disappointment of losing somewhat tamely to Wigan and Blackburn in quick succession soured many supporters` previously positive sentiments towards a season in which it was generally accepted that we were defying the gods, as well as the odds, to stay in contention as long as we were. In consequence the attitude towards the team, amid accusations of a lack of endeavour, then took a slightly girly tone amounting to something along the lines of "You wouldn`t treat me this way if you really cared!" Once the chance of reaching the 86 point total had gone in what was a good performance in defeat to Spurs then the team visibly flagged under the weight of a depleted midfield compounded by the absence of both first choice centre backs, plus the previously unimaginable lack of participation of Almunia, despite the welcome return of van Persie. It shouldn`t happen and what we had left in the squad should have earned us more points but victory against Wigan, City and Blackburn would still only have earned us third place. By then we were destined only to be the 3rd best team in the PL whatever happened.

It is taken for granted now that we deserve a CL place as a right and little account is taken of the quality needed in the team to achieve that, let alone the quality of the management to do so as consistently as we have done, but in a way that is acknowledgement itself of just how much progress we have made. There are decisions to make to strengthen our ability to continue to challenge with increasing effect but the progress we have made as a club has ensured that we won`t lack the resources, relative to our peers, to make those decisions and sustain our aspirations. Despite all those resources and all the quality we do have and can acquire we`ll need for fortune not to desert us quite as brazenly as it has done this season if we are to triumph.

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Date:Monday May 10 2010
Time: 12:47PM


I hope the players don't use the old "luck" chestnut when they scrutinise the season. Luck is a losing game, an argument only ever used to point to "bad luck" rather than good luck. Some may claim that the amount of last minute goals we have scored is a measure of "good luck." I don't agree, anymore than I agree with the very shaky argument of "bad luck." Luck and God are two non existent entities that humans are conditioned to blame when ***** goes pear shaped. Losers whine about luck, champions shape their own destiny, when they concede obscure goals, they go up the other end and score one themselves. It's no better an argument than the sides in the lower reaches of the table that say, "The big clubs get all the decisions."
Little Dutch
10/05/2010 13:14:00
I would also repeat my oft made point about injuries. Diaby, Fabregas (x2), Rosicky, Gallas, van Persie, Walcott, Denilson, Song, Clichy, Arshavin, Gibbs and Bendtner all injured and obtained recurrences of their injuries having completed less than 90 minutes of their comebacks. Djourou and van Persie were both misdiagnosed and mistreated for a total of three weeks before their injuries were correctly diagnosed. You simply cannot ignore the persistent failure in diagnostics, it's not even a ground for contention, it's there in black and white. If it's not the treatment that's been persistently poor, it's certainly the diagnoses.
Little Dutch
10/05/2010 13:19:00
As a final point, you might be correct to mock the reactions of fans to the poor defeats to Blackburn and Wigan, but what does that say about the players themselves? If the fans' reaction to it is incorrect, that's one thing, but what about the players? Could one not say that they were very "girly" to stop bothering with games the second they thought the title had gone? "I can't win anymore so I'm not playing."
Little Dutch
10/05/2010 13:24:00
You sneaked umpteen points in the last minute and had loads of favourable deflections this season early doors i seem to remember. Sure youre easily the 3rd best team but in terms of luck you had more than your fair share, it could be argued you struggled to make 3rd, thank Bendtner for all those last minute winners. I do think though if RvP had stayed fit then you would have been closer to the top 2 but i wouldnt say you made any progress on last year where you were very close to an EXCELLENT Man Utd team. Apart from selling some deadwood to City that is.
10/05/2010 13:45:00
A nice piece of writing Amos but I take offence to the ' girly tone ' comment regarding the losses at Wigan & Blackburn. The only thing ' girly ' at the Wigan game was the manner in which the players capitulated, as was the case at Ewood. In a poor quality PL this year I will settle for 3rd, but I can't see how we have progressed as a team. We still can't close games out, still go to pieces with long throws and corners, and are still cursing the fact that ' Lady Luck ' is a stranger to The Grove.
Cockney Rich
10/05/2010 13:48:00
When you score goals isn't anything to do with luck. Scoring a goal in the last minute is no more a matter of chance than scoring in the first minute. It's worth pointing out that I haven't argued that good luck would have won us the title merely that it might have got us closer to it. Nor have I argued that bad luck prevented us from claiming anything other than the 3rd place we achieved anyway. It isn't possible to make a reference to the role that fortune plays in footballing triumphs without it sounding like sour grapes or churlishness but we all know it exists. There needn't be any reluctance to point that out. The only issue is whether it evens itself out over the course of one season or not. Most of the time it doesn't but it will over the longer run which is why our consistent run of 13 consecutive CL qualifications isn't reliant on luck The progress we have made as a club in this season is evident enough if you look at what we have achieved in the face of the the difficulties we have encountered. Nasri is right - it's only the bad luck that prevents some from seeing it.
10/05/2010 14:35:00
The breathtaking consistency of our injury blight cannot be down to Lady Luck as a fair proportion of our long term injuries are a result of an over-zealous physical approach to playing Arsenal by the rank and file of the Premiership. RvP and Gibbs were also bad challenges but not in the EPL. I think there are probably many smaller injuries caused in this way as well. What can we do about them? Arsenal are generally better than most (a point proven by our but continual participation in the CL) but unfortunately always up to concede a “shock” goal and we’ve been like this for two or three years now. When Chelsea or ManU go one nil up, the opposition lose heart at the prospect of trying to win. They just lie down and die. Against us they know that we are likely to concede and so continue to battle hard even when two down. That must take its toll on the players both mentally and physically. So it seems to me that once we rid ourselves of this sense of vulnerability, the physicality from the opposition will decrease, our injuries will decrease and we can then go on to win some silverware.
Sir Henry
10/05/2010 14:38:00
We are in a league of our own .. literally. Not good enough to win the title, not bad enough to let any other team finish above us. That said injuries and complacency have cost us. Roll on next season.
10/05/2010 14:41:00
Sorry, Amos, but this article just beggars belief. I don't want to engage in a fight here but I'll just come out and say it: for me, your article is utterly delusional, you don't back it up your very weak argument with any actual facts. You fail to explain in any detail, you fail to provide any stats that DEMONSTRATE this so-called "progress." You in fact provide nothing at all to back up your claim that we've made any progress. In fact, if you actually look at all the relevant stats since we last won a trophy, YOU WILL SEE NO PROGRESS AT ALL. What exactly is this "progress" you speak of? This is particularly ridiculous and ludicrous nonsense: "took a slightly girly tone amounting to something along the lines of "You wouldn`t treat me this way if you really cared!" Well then I guess every club support base on the entire planet in the entire history of the sport is "girly" when their players show no fight, no spirit, no determination whatsoever - when in fact they just collapse against inferior teams, indulging in self-indulgent self-pity because they lost to a better team and feel they have nothing more to fight for. There is absolutely NO excuse for our form since Barca -- zero. For you to say there's something wrong with the supporters for reacting to the way the players responded to that defeat really is astonishing. Every single support base at every single football club on the planet would've reacted the way we did. Until Barca, we all thought this team had finally finally learned how to fight. What destroyed that positive attitude among the supporters and around the club was precisely the way the team responded after being knocked out of the CL -- the team went right back to their yearly collapse that happens every single season now, destroying any belief that they'd finally progressed in their attitude and mentality. And as for injuries - oh please! Enough with the pathetic injury excuses. There is NO excuse for the team that AW put out on the pitch against Spurs, Wigan, Bburn to have played like they did -- NONE! Injuries are totally irrelevant. The players he put out on the pitch were more than capable of beating those teams. Every single fkg season the same damned excuses come out - luck and injuries, luck and injuries, luck and injuries - no no no, it's not the players fault, it's just the supporter being rotten in their support. Enuf already with this bilge. LD is completely right in his comments re our injuries - a STEADY, CONSISTENT PATTERN indicates more than just luck. Luck is a pathetic excuse that only losers talk about. I honestly didn't want to come out fighting like this but I found this article is utterly infuriating and delusional. Someone please publish one on this site that talks about reality.
10/05/2010 14:59:00
Jaelle, when AW leaves, I want you to take over.
Cockney Rich
10/05/2010 15:13:00
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