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Arsenal need to create more luck

There is little more miserable than losing a game that is winnable as I suppose all home games against newly promoted sides must be. We didn`t play well enough by our standards to triumph irrespective of the pattern of the game yesterday. It`s a sign of a championship winning team that can win when it is playing poorly goes the football cliché. There is an element of truth in that of course. One player capable of a moment`s brilliance can turn a game but as much it`s a stroke of fortune at the right time that has that effect.

Arsenal didn`t play well enough against Newcastle yesterday. We didn`t create enough of the quality of chances we needed to ensure we won the game. Unless Cesc is firing on all cylinders we lack the creativity we need to always open teams up as often as we need for our level of finishing to reap its rewards. Based on minutes played Cesc is by some distance the one player, guaranteed to start, likely to create assists or goal attempts with any frequency. Arshavin has the higher number of assists in PL and CL games but has half as much more playing time to his name. But rather like Nasri and Wilshere he doesn`t create goal attempts often enough. Rosicky does though. Although he has only one assist in the PL and CL games he has played this season he creates goal attempts at a similar rate to Cesc. In games like yesterdays we need as much creative influence as can get on the pitch. Songs industry won`t often be enough to compensate as it did in the West Ham game. Replacing Nasri with Arshavin was at best a like for like swap in terms of adding creative options. Maybe Rosicky isn`t fit enough, or deemed too fragile to play as many games as Arshavin or Nasri but we need to get him on the pitch in games like these. You create your own luck goes another football cliché, also with more than an element of truth in it.

ManU didn`t play any better on Saturday against Wolves than we did against Newcastle. There`s no comfort in that and it`s only relevant in pointing out that there is a fine line between the result that we suffered and that which ManU, as one of our peers, enjoyed which has nothing to do with the quality of performance or the spirit of the players. They may have had a couple more attempts on target than we had but didn`t hit the woodwork as often as we did. They also allowed their opponents more opportunities to score and enjoyed less possession than we did. In themselves those stats don`t tell the whole story any more than stats ever do but they do show that our failings have as much to do with the run of the ball as any lack of quality compared to at least one of the teams currently above us. Of course there are times when the ball does run our way as over a full season it invariably must but in order for us to triumph often enough we need to play at a level that minimises the dependency on such factors though it`s never possible to eliminate them. That level is some way above what we achieved yesterday.

No-one is finding the league easy so far this season. Chelsea are having the best of it so far but have lost only one game less than us. ManU remain the one side that could match our unbeaten season without really convincing anyone that they`ll be able to do so on current form. The quality of the PL is high and pretty well any team is capable of making a decent fist of it as we`ve seen already. Whether the squads are strong enough to sustain that level with what is still almost three quarters of the season left to play is something we`ll discover only when we get to the end of it.

Yesterdays result will have been doubly disappointing for those that felt our form and the form of those above us had increased our title chances beyond the third favourites at best as we were at the beginning of the season. Truth is we aren`t any better than that at present but the 'lack of bottle' analysis which is the most favoured default criticism when trying to explain something which isn`t easy to explain is nothing more than a convenient box to shove frustration into.

Chris Hughton got closer to it yesterday when, while rightly enjoying the reward that his sides industry, quality and professionalism unexpectedly brought them, he admitted in passing that "We rode our luck at times". Find the Di Matteo post match interview from the earlier defeat to West Brom and you`ll hear the same sentiment. I realise that pointing out the role that fortune plays in these games will irritate some determined to believe there is some definite psychological fault line running through the club. It seems almost a sacrilege to appear to question those that are determined to believe that the wheels are wobbling if not coming off but, at times, it really is that simple. There was no lack of effort or mental strength in either of the home games we have lost this season - we were the better team on both occasions though still not nearly as good enough as we need to be. Of course there`ve been and will be other games where we triumph despite being 2nd best.

To challenge to be champions we have to be able to rise above that dependency more often than our peers are able to do and we clearly aren`t doing that at present. We need to create clearer goal attempts and to finish those that we do create a little more clinically. It`s a fine line we tread at this level but we can still compete. We`ll learn through the rest of the season whether it`s enough to assuage our present frustrated expectations.



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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday November 8 2010

Time: 11:20AM

Your Comments

Wow... I sure as hell hope Arsene and the coaching staff don't take this approach and fail to address the flaws in the way we played on Saturday by simply putting it down to bad luck. And we weren't the better team really, we could string 3 passes together, so what if we had more chances, Newcastle were playing to beat us, score, let us have a lot of the ball but be disciplined enough to not let it penetrate them, which is what they did.
shewore
Sorry Amos. I just don't buy the luck argument. I believe in the cliched saying that you make your own luck. By definition this means taking more chances and risks, something I don't see us doing much these days. By this I mean shooting when there is a clear sight of goal and good crossing into the box with people following the ball in expecting to win it. We are too deliberate in the way we play at times, and I believe this becomes predictable and easy to defend against. It may not be mental strength but it is a belief that any ball in the box is already halfway in the goal and needs to be helped in - be it the pretty or ugly way - a sweeping move or a bundle into the back of the net. They all count.
Wyn Mills
Agree with shewore This had nothing to do with bad luck but simple fact we were crap
Armory
Of course there are flaws to address as I point out. Doesn't mean you have to be entirely blind to what happened yesterday. Newcastle weren't the better team they were just the team that won. It's not that hard to be objective and at the same time still acknowledge the things they did well which helped them to win and take advantage of the fortune that come their way as we all need to do.
Amos.
Thing is, we played the "played badly and won" card against West Ham and Brum. Playing below par three home games on the spin is cause for concern. Ultimately, we might have gotten away with it again had we not given a stupid goal to Newcastle and made it harder for ourselves. That was really the only difference between yesterday and the West Ham game. I think Rosicky is a tremendous player, but I don't think he provides the penetration in the final third that Arshavin does. Rosicky will play a ball into a striker's feet with his back to gal, but he doesn't get behind defences- either with his dribbling or his passing- in the way Arshavin does.
Little Dutch
We might have played badly, by our standards, and won against West Ham and Brum but we were still the better side on both occassions. We were also the better side yesterday but didn't win. I can't argue that Arshavin isn't more penetrative - he has more goals and assists - and more playing time than Rosicky but Rosicky still creates goal scoring attempts closer to the rate that Cesc does and gets through a lot of other work. My point is that, in games like yesterdays we probably need Cesc, Arshavin and Rosicky on the pitch - perhaps more than we needed Walcott for example.
Amos.
Appreciate the sentiment Amos, but I don't think we can roll out the bad luck excuse season after season. When we were going for the title during the season Eduardo got injured at B'ham, and when we got knocked out by Liverpool in the CL QF the same season, at the time I believed we'd been unlucky. But on the evidence of the seasons since it's becoming evident that there is something lacking in this crop of players that you can't put your finger on. It's probably a few minor factors rather than one big one. We certainly need to bring variety to our game and the way we attack and not try and complete a 20-pass move to score. I know there's been a debate here about whether it's our defensive frailties or attacking lack of ruthlessness that's at fault, but in my opinion you absolutely have to be solid defensively in order to win the major prizes, and that we have categorically been failing in for a long time now. By the way, I don't agree we were the better side against West Brom at home.
Gooner_Vin
The West Brom game was one that was more finely balanced than some other home games but we had more than 3 times as many goal attempts as they did and at least 3 good scoring opportunities before they scored. Arshavin hitting the post twice at one point. We also dominated possession almost 2 to 1. West Brom exceeded expectations and therefore the appraisal of their performance is bound to be judged on the result. Had the performances and result been reversed WB would have been deemed to have been the unlucky side and deserving of more from the game.
Amos.
I don't think it's the content of the article, more the timing of it. It comes across as sour grapes. Now I am not accusing you of that Amos, but after a couple of s****y performances, articles like this you will only give ammunition to opposition fans who want to shoot us down.
LondonGooner
Sod 'em LG. They'll want to shoot us down anyway. There aren't any opposition fans whose teams haven't been guilty of s****y performances of their own. I think it's healthy to attempt to take an objective view of performances no matter how soon after the game and whoever is upset by it. Bottom line is there is more to it than we were crap or lacked bottle. In some ways that's what makes football interesting - waiting for the inevitable car crash moments - we just need to have fewer of those than those we aspire to usurp do.
Amos.
I can only scan the article because if I read it in detail I'll just want to throw something--I'm already massively irritated by having just scanned it. Won't even address the pathetic luck crap. First, I believe there's a serious downside to Song moving up all the time and not acting as a proper DM, regardless of the goals he's getting. It invites more fouls and cynical tackling. We concede far too many free kicks in midfield, which resulted in yesterday's goal. At least if we had efficiency in front of goal that would matter less. We are bottom of the fair play league, btw. At least before when had a poor disciplinary record we were winning trophies. Now we're not winning trophies and have a poor disciplinary record. Yesterday's result did not in fact surprise me, which is why I'm less upset by it than others are. I just came away from the game feeling calm and resigned and shrugged my shoulders. I had a very strong feeling about it, which is unusual for me. I hoped for a draw but I thought we'd lose. I felt Newcastle are under Houghton are a far better team than they've been in yrs. I felt that we'd suffer a CL hangover just like Spurs did and like Utd almost did. Plus I stopped feeling confident about our home record some time ago. I agree with comments pointing to our players. But I also think that PL managers have evolved and become smarter. Houghton is no genius but he's smart enuf to figure us out and he has players good enuf to stick to his plan. AW is proving to be incapable of dealing with this. Teams come to our home ground with little fear anymore. This team is good enuf to maybe win a domestic cup but I don't believe it will ever be good enuf to win the league unless something fundamentally changes.
jaelle
you chaps do have your fair share of bad luck but you are also guilty of wasting chances galore not dissimilar to us however chamakh isnt a 2m donkey with all the power of roadkill. you are guilty of over playing and that in itself is making you predictable and easier to defend against
jljyid
And losing to 2 newly promoted sides at home isn't a case of bad luck.
jaelle
Gutted to say the least.. But off topic : whats with the Wenger sex affair scandal?? My first thot was does he even have time for that?
shady gunna
I don't say it is only a case of bad luck jaelle. Just that it is a bigger factor than 'lack of bottle' or that we were simply crap. We didn't play well enough to force fortune in our favour. It's a fair comment that PL managers are getting smarter (in most cases) and also that the TV deals are providing funds that make the poor teams a little less poor and they can invest a bit more too. That means the biggers boys will take a knock every now and then. It should all make for a very tight PL which really is how it should be.
Amos.
I know where you are coming from Amos, other teams have just as crappy performannces etc (We shouldn't become used to these performances as Arsenal fans, but we are, well I am anyway). Objectivety is not something you can expect from any fan after a crappy performance like we just delivered. I agree completely with the jist of the article, just the timing mate. I think the biggest culprit/bad guy to lay the blame squarely on is the gaffer. His choices, his picks, his s****y tactics and bizarre substitutions, there are always mitigating factors, but if he had performaed a s £5 million a year manager with 25+ years of experience behind him should of then there would of been no need for any extra scapegoats. Yet again, I feel the boss has completely let us down.
LondonGooner
I think he has got team selection wrong in the last few games. There maybe reasons for that, balancing resources, recovery times et c., but we've fallen short of what was needed at times. It's always easier to be wise after the event though - an early goal here or there, an indvidual error avoided and things would seem different.
Amos.
In this case it is very easy to be wise after the event because everyone and his cat knew it was a matter of time before Flappy dropped another clanger. Yes, keepers WILL make mistakes, but for goodness sake hasn't Fabianski made more than his fair share? What is it going to take for Wenger to install the world class keeper this club, and his legacy, needs? He is stubborn beyond belief and it is costing this team in more ways than one.
Wyn Mills
..."at least, before, when we had a poor disciplinary record, we were winning trophies". Lol, Jaelle. If it works for you, then it should be a good omen for us as the season isn't over yet and we are still in it, anyway :-) . I will swap top of the fairplay table for a trophy every time.
Naijagunner
I will give credit to the Newcastle the way they set up shop to frustrate us, but that was about it, really. They were not the better side, just the side with the right tactics, on the day. We score first and it will have been a completely different game. @Amos, I feel selection problems will get worse with some key players coming back and the manager "pressured" into playing them ahead of fitter, proven players. For instance, Arshavin should have started ahead of Theo yesterday. This was going to be that kind of game! Wenger must pull the lads together and guide them through the next 4 fixtures or so; I am certain we won't be too far behind if ours and other results go in our favour.
Naijagunner
I've just watched the first half again, having been to the game and recorded it. Clearly, it was collectively a lacklustre performance and don't know what you should put that down to. Although we need to be patient when so-called lesser teams visit our stadium, I do think we need to vary the way we play and not just pass it to death. You watch Barca play and they won't always pass it for the sake of it. There'll be incisive, penetrative passing at the right tempo. In the absence of a Iniesta, Xavi and Messi, we need to find a way of winning when our A game isn't working and that sometimes means getting into wide positions and putting in GOOD crosses. God knows how many of those percentage goals that Chelsea and Man Utd have scored down the years.
Gooner_Vin
My god Amos you're really clutching on to those straws for dear life, it's come to this has it? You're now saying we were unlucky, phew that's a relief, no need to be concerned then, we've just been unlucky, thank god. Now let's just get on with winning the League and Champions League, now that we've got the bad luck of West Brom and Newcastle out of the way nothing can stop us.
Professor Calculus
No that's not what I'm saying Prof., but I'm not entirely surprised that's your conclusion. At present there's no reason why fortune won't favour us in more games other than the home defeats we've suffered so far. We need to be better in making and taking the chances we do create but if we do lose again, based on what we've seen so far, it will probably not have anything to do with lack of bottle or that we were simply crap either. Though I understand the appeal of such simple conclusions.
Amos.
No Amos, you apparently understand that Arsenal have flaws but when anyone has ever tried to elaborate on these flaws you dismiss them, so much so that only you could write an analysis of that game and mention the word luck with a straight face. Luck is random, the way Arsenal are losing games is anything but random, it's a clear repeated pattern consisting of the same mistakes, it's getting to the point now where everyone can see it but you. The opposition can see it, just ask newly promoted sides how they walked away with three points from the Emirates, they will tell you that they sucker punched us, they had a very good day and this bit is crucial - we had a very bad day and those days are far too common. What exactly is your point then, that fortune will favour us in other games? Well yeah, we can apply that to any team, but to specifically write an article about another promoted side beating us at home and talk about fortune in the same context is stretching it even for you.
Professor Calculus
Even with shoddy performances like at Newcastle, we managed to hit the bar twice, and only a top-drawer save from Krul kept out a great shot from Nasri. Likewise at West Ham, we hit the woodwork twice. So there is certainly an element of bad luck in our performances so far; but it would be one-eyed to ignore the good luck as well (such as Reina's error which salvaged our point vs Liverpool).
krismon1
Dismissing analysis of flaws is exactly what you are doing isn't it Prof? Debate wouldn't exist if that didn't take place. No need to ask newly promoted sides how they walked away with 3 points both Hughton and Di Matteo admitted (in fuller analysis) that they 'rode their luck' at times. They did so with a straight face too, well more of a broad smile I guess, but you see it isn't just me mentioning luck in an analysis of the game. In the context of this match I'm not even the first to do so. Wenger also refers to it in his post match comments (most definitely with a very straight face) so it's a legitimate basis for an article despite your persistent protests that nobody should be allowed to dismiss the more simplistic analysis of our flaws. My point though was that we aren't always playing at the level which negates the effects of fortune (though it will always be there to some extent) on the outcome of the game. We win many more games than we lose so we do play at that level more often than not but it isn't yet enough to reach the goals we aspire to. Of course luck can go both ways which is why ManU won at the weekend and we lost despite arguably playing better than they did.
Amos.
Luck favours the brave. The old addage about 'being in it to win it" is as true about the buying a lottery ticket as Arsenal players being bothered to run into the box to convert the chances that luck may throw their way. So, Amos, if you're saying we need to create more luck by being more committed then I'm with you.
Wyn Mills
I think we're already pretty committed. We just have to play better. A little more creative and sharper at finishing the chances we do create (and minimising individual errors at the back).
Amos.
Probably one of the stupidest articles i have ever read blaming the defeat on luck, luck had nothing to do with it. We lost because the team didn't pass the ball well and Wenger refuses to give up on Fabianski. Other teams are suprised when there goalkepper makes a howler, we are ment to be pleased when are's dosen't every football pundit and fan out there can see we need a new goalkeeper so why can't wenger
saint_gunna
The problems with your conclusions saintgunna are firstly that the article doesn't blame the defeat on luck and secondly luck undeniably played a role.
Amos.
The probelms with your conclsuions amos is that you fail to see the major flaws in our side and write numerous articles defending the teamwhen somtimes its just easier to say our goalkeeper is *****, and i think luck plays a part in most games dont't you?
saint_gunna
It's a hell of a lot easier just to say that the keeper is **** the team are crap, the manager is **** etc., etc., etc., but you'd get just as bored reading articles if that's all there is to say. Fortune plays a role in football for sure - and the truth is you need an amount of it to achieve anything - the invincibles wouldn't have been invincibles if van Nostrilboy hadn't hit the bar. What I'm saying is that we need to be playing at a level which minimises the role that fortune plays in games like this weekends (though Wenger wasn't wrong in pointing out that it did) but we aren't doing so enough at present.
Amos.
This article articulates the issue concerning 2nd ball that I've also noticed: http://arsenalfcblog.com/arsenals-lack-of-aerial-intelligence-is-starting-to-annoy-me/#comment-127618
Wyn Mills
 

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