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West Bromwich Albion 2 Arsenal 2

The unusual phenomenon of an Arsenal free midweek left us somewhat kicking our heels (or, if you`re as sad as me, watching the Arsenal Reserves). The journey to the West Midlands was largely spent finalising plans for a weekend in Blackpool for the away fixture at Bloomfield Road in three weeks. I couldn`t help but rue the grim irony that we were making such plans whilst our neighbours were booking flights to Madrid. Comme ci comme ca. A smooth journey was then punctuated by a quick jar of the black stuff in the aptly named Royal Oak pub some ten minutes away from the ground. (What do you mean you don`t know why the Royal Oak is an apt name for a pub for an Arsenal fan? Come this way).

Jens Lehmann was given a warm welcome in the warm up, whilst news filtered through that Aaron Ramsey would start with the perennially injured Abou Diaby, errr, injured. What is he actually for nowadays? We knew that any positive result Arsenal garnered would unlikely be pretty, but it matters not at this stage of the season. Our style of play rather relies on everyone playing with confidence and that`s something that is in short supply amongst the squad at the moment. After just 3 minutes, the confidence was to take another body blow. Chris Brunt tossed in a left wing corner and Steven Reid rose easily above Aaron Ramsey to power a header into the net. Another set piece, another soft concession. The Gunners were rocked and the passing game disrupted. The lack of conviction almost manifested itself disastrously when Squillaci over hit a pass intended for Sagna, Jerome Thomas nicked in to intercept and sent a low cross across the six yard box which Odemwingie couldn`t reach.

But gradually Arsenal came back into the game, though found it next to impossible to pass through an organised Baggies side. Arsenal were often left with little option but to fizz the ball into the box. On one occasion; it nearly paid dividends. Arshavin played a one two with Clichy on the left; Clichy sent in an excellent looping cross which Robin van Persie headed against the face of the bar. The ball dropped for Aaron Ramsey who really should have done better from close range, but blasted straight at Scott Carson. West Brom did not even vaguely threaten for the rest of the half, but neither did Arsenal for all their possession. It was obvious we weren`t going to be able to pick through the Baggies defence. Deprived of Fabregas and Walcott, one again, there was next to no penetration. It was as poor a 45 minutes as I have seen from Arsenal this season. At half time, Wenger was left to unseal the envelope marked 'Plan B.` Chamakh came on for Denilson- the announcement was met with an enormous ironic cheer from the away support. Denilson`s confidence is at an all time low, the supporters are hardly helping. Still I`m left wondering what happened to the Denilson of two years ago.

With the Gunners being forced wide to send crosses in, it made sense to add greater aerial threat. The away side began the second period with much greater emphasis, moving the ball much more quickly. However, despite a bright start to the half, they nearly found themselves two down when Odemwingie played Thomas in down the left with Sagna too far advanced, Thomas delivered a low cross to Chris Brunt on the back post, but Brunt could only toe the ball wide. Arsenal went for broke and replaced Ramsey with Bendtner. Just as Arsenal were feeling their way back into the game, a colossal error made a recovery unlikely. Mulumbu hit a long cross field ball towards Odemwingie, Squillaci had the ball comfortably under his control but Manuel Almunia, for some reason known only to him, decided to try and sweep up, leaving Squillaci to clear the way for his goalkeeper. Trouble was Almunia got nowhere near the ball, leaving Odemwingie with the very simple task of gratefully sliding the ball into an empty net. The response of the away support was to chant Lehmann`s name, the big screen cut immediately to Jens` face on the bench. Even when he was in his prime, Jens was legendary for such brainless wanders out of his area himself.

A beleaguered Gunners side now needed to call upon their reserves of guts and endeavour. They showed plenty and for the first time in a number of weeks, Arshavin began to look interested. He sent a pass into the feet of Chamakh in the area and continued his run; the Moroccan prodded the ball back into the Russian`s path. Arshavin took one touch before despatching a shot into Scott Carson`s far corner. Game on. With a more physical front three, Arsenal were beginning to carry a more potent threat. Arshavin jinked to the by line on the left and sent a cross to the back post. It looked to have been over cooked by the Russian, but Bendtner was in no mood to give up the chase, craning his neck to nod the ball back into the six yard area. It got caught under the feet of Abdoulaye Meite and Robin van Persie was alive to tackle the West Brom centre half and scuff the ball into the net at a speed of roughly 0.000003 mph. It was exactly the sort of goal you need in a period like this.

With around thirteen minutes still remaining, the Gunners pushed on for the win. Though they were nearly caught cold when Fortune shimmied between Koscielny and Nasri to clear a path for goal, but Squillaci came across with an excellent block. Arsenal threw the kitchen sink at their hosts with a series of set pieces causing Baggie hearts to flutter. Nasri`s free kick looked set to scrape off of Squillaci`s bonce en route to goal, but was stolen away by Jonas Olsson. Nasri then fed the onrushing Wilshere on the edge of the box, but he fired over. Then Arshavin found van Persie on the corner of the area, the Dutchman nodded the ball down to Gael Clichy, but his half volley was palmed away by Carson. An almighty goalmouth scramble had teeth gnashing as van Persie`s corner was flicked on by Squillaci and Chamakh`s close range shot was blocked by Meite.

The clock ran down and Arsenal`s efforts were not to be fully rewarded. One has to commend the character to come back from two goals down in a fallow period for a team shorn of some of its best players. The team showed a character and guts that most accuse them of lacking, whilst the manager was able to make the relevant changes upfront and add an aerial presence when it was clear that our passing game wasn`t hurting West Brom also lends us a positive. But West Brom only registered two shots on target and did not have to work very hard to score either goal. We simply have to stop surrendering such cheap goals. It sounds like an obvious thing to say, but we make games about a thousand times harder for ourselves when we find ourselves a goal down under so little pressure. We give teams something to defend and we simply have to concentrate much, much better. United had a tough game yesterday whereby they played well below their abilities against stubborn opposition. But they stayed in the game because they kept a clean sheet- which always gives you a chance even on an off day. The destination of the title still rests in our hands. We were never going to win all ten of our remaining games and United are unlikely to garner a 100% winning record in the run in with other commitments making a mess of their fixture schedule. I hope that, at least, the comeback has slain some of the despondency in the team and the international break is, for once, well timed so the players can escape to another environment for ten days or so. Provided they all come back fit, it could do them a world of good. My final thought would be to share the sage words of a fellow travelling supporter leaving the stadium, upon seeing his mate in the concourse, he declared, "Could`ve been worse, should`ve been better."LD.

1.ALMUNIA, 3.SAGNA, 18.SQUILLACI, 6.KOSCIELNY, 22.CLICHY, 15.DENILSON (29.Chamakh H/T), 19.WILSHERE, 16.RAMSEY (52.Bendtner `56), 8.NASRI, 23.ARSHAVIN, 10.v.PERSIE(c). Unused: 7.Rosicky, 13.Lehmann, 27.Eboue, 28.Gibbs, 48.Miquel.

Follow me on twitter @LittleDutchVA




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday March 20 2011

Time: 6:13PM

Your Comments

It wasn't that bad a performance I thought but these silly individual errors keep cropping up. The positives were obviously the way the team responded, but picking some out, Chamakh is still not quite there but is far more threatening than he was a month ago. If he gets back to his best he could be invaluable, with 442 becoming more and more necessary. Fabregas' absence is blatant and difficult for us to overcome time and again but Walcott is also being sorely missed; we're very average when more than one of our modern front four is out. On a side note, Squillaci's block was indeed excellent and you just know if it was Vidic or Terry everyone would be creaming themselves. I've been far from convinced by him, particularly alongside Koscielny but I'm sure he's good enough to hit some form when it really matters. Still 2 points dropped and the title is still a big ask but United will drop points, I guarantee, so we've got a chance. As has been said umpteen times the fringe players need to step up, particularly the likes of Bendtner, Rosicky and even Ramsey, if Denilson continues to do his utmost to lose his place in the side.
super_gooner
Tim, this article has finally made me sign up to VA, just to say - "it was a potentially huge point gained". Win our nine remaining games and we are champions. Without that point I could not say that. I appreciate we are unlikely to win our nine games, but I just want to highlight the significance. I remember very well how disappointed I felt after our 2-2 with Wimbledon in 1989, and look what happened. Our travelling support contained some disgraceful elements yesterday. Why they would bother paying and travelling for such apparent distress I do not know - and I know I would have had a more pleasant day without some of them there (as you know). Let's get behind the team at least until all is lost. Why would even the most fickle 'supporter' not do so? When we are down to single figure matches remaining ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE, and were we to filter out our fears I am sure we would see that Arsenal should logically be favourites for the title given the path ahead for a distinctly average Manchester United. Sorry for the rant, but basically those who aren;t in this for the duration get off the bus as we'll move faster without your weight.
DHCLawman
I think it is a myth that Manchester United are average. Granted they're not as good as they used to be but they are still the best team team defensively and arguably best attackingly as well. They also have a much better work ethic than us.
gronedrone
Nicely said DHCLawman and very good to hear. There're times when I think we have the crappiest support in football. If the internationals are kind to us and we don't lose any key players then the interlull could come at a good time. We need some key players back. Relaxed confident and committed. We are still in it with 9 games to go. It hasn't been a bad season. It could've been worse and we'll find out how much better it might've been at the end of the season.
Amos.
Nice to have you aboard Darryl, top post.
Little Dutch
It's not been bad season at all. Apart from the disappointment of the carling cup final I'd say its been pretty awesome season. Those same fans that are butthurt we aren't top of the table were predicting we'd finish outside the top four.
gronedrone
It really could have been worse and the fight back, a rarity these days, was a sign of better things to come. What the side lacks now is increased belief that there's still a lot to play for and we are good enough for it. The team has been despondent since losing out in 3 cups in quick succession, almost questioning their own abilities. There is need for all round confidence and this is especially so for Denilson (I thought not being called up by Brazil in a game on his own club ground won't do him good); I just saw 2 Brazilians score 2 goals for Chelsea to get the win over City and think he would like to be in such company.

LD, while Jens Lehmann has been known to wander out of his area, the difference is that he will usually clear anything in his path, including his teammate. Almunia gave the shout and still did little; I can only imagine what that will do for his confidence as some started singing Jens' name who, to my mind, we can't afford to rush into a game at this time of the season. The fans must help (of course, Arsene has a job there too) build up the team at this critical period with all our games now looking tricky.
Naijagunner
Great first post DHCLawman, we're still in a very good position and Man Utd. have suffered a fair few injuries to their defenders lately. There seems to be a lot of negativity among the fans and I can understand their frustration but surely it makes sense to wait till the season is over before getting on the teams back or giving up on the team. Some have suggested the quality of the PL is lower overall than past seasons but I don't think that's the case, it has just become more even which makes it much more interesting. It would be a huge achievement for us to win it when you see the amount of money the likes of Man C and Chelsea have spent.
bowiecokemirror
One can be critical of the team's shortcomings without passing nasty and personal comments about the players and manager of the very club one supports. Dissapointment and hurt may cause extreme anger but if our actions dont end up helping our own cause we would be indulging in self sabotage. For once the International break may have come at a good time for us.
Deltaforce
I am sick of people venting their spleens at AW 'not fixing the goalkeeping problem'. He has, period. Szczesny is a superb 'keeper and we will not be buying another. Almunia was playing yesterday as he is third choice and our first and second choice are injured. It is not the same proposition as Almunia playing as first choice, as he has in the past. There are probably not many better third choice 'keepers in the Premiership. Had it not been for his errors we would be praising the team for a 0-2 win. As it is, I am a damn sight grateful compared to how we were with only 19 minutes to go. That point was pulled out of the fire and deserved. It bodes well. The recovery was a reason to be positive. Last time Almunia bodged on the cusp of a title, against Birmingham, we could not pull it back. Yesterday we did. I would just like people to keep things real and stay well away from the negative hype. I actually saw a whole lot to be positive about yesterday. Including how much better we look as a 4-4-2 funnily enough.
DHCLawman
Personally I see nothing wrong with venting on blogs, Twitter, whatever as long as we give the players our full support for the 90 minutes that their on the pitch. For me we would have a pot under our belt and be in a much healthier position league wise if we bothered practising defending at set plays, 54% of our premiership goals conceded have come from this area. I dont subscribe to the view this has been an awesome season, we have 9 games to make it an awesome season, hopefully we just go for it, take the shackles off and just try and win every single game between now and May.
iceman10
I think you are absolutely correct iceman10 that we need to just go for it. I believe out downfall at times has been playing with the handbrake on. That said, we have achieved way beyond my expectations before we went into the run from the CC Final. So I am not going to be a hypocrite and express disappointment with the season now. Sadness that we didn't convert the CC yes. But we may still win the league and that's the biggest of the lot.
DHCLawman
Admiral support Darryl. Tottenham away and that's it for me this season, just to see if they still hurt from the embarrassment at home against them.
shewore
As I have posted on the "team news" article I realistically believe that the target is CL football next year not the championship. We are a team wih one third choice goalkeeper and two centre backs left until the end of the season. I believe that the Tottenham result, and now Man City today are more relevant to us than MU or probably Chelsea now. I am not giving up for one moment, just trying to add a sense of perspective to the results of the last two months where we have struggled to put away four championship and lower teams and had severel PL results which correspond with this level of form. Believing that the international break of all things is going to assist unfortunately brings to mind the words straws and clutching. I hope I am wrong and we can grow to love the international break!
grouvillegooner
Nice write up Timbo. I hope you're right about this providing a timely boost to the confidence of the team. Personally is does feel more like 2 points dropped than 1 gained, and I'm definately not usually a doom and gloom merchant, it's just the last few weeks has taken a lot of the spirit out of me, and if it's done that to me, I find it hard to believe it hasn't done that to the players too, even more so. So if they can see it as a point gained then we might just be alright.
Rocky7
A bit worried gg, have you looked at Manure's run in for the rest of the season. They face Chelsea three times,(true two are CL games but very tiring) Mancity (FA cup) then Everton and us. They have serious injuries. Whereas we have Saturday to Saturday football. If and its a big if we win all our remaining games; as Amos has said we have all our players involved in International duty return fit , I feel we have a great chance to take the EPL.
alwaysgunner
I'm sorry but I just cant buy into this feel good factor that seams to have infected most fans after coming back from 2 down. first of all we should never have gone 2 down and only did so because of individual mistakes. Same old story as we have had over the last 4 or 5 years. And thats why I have gone so pessemistic. Because of the managers inability to address these issues, it's not like they are something that just popped up!. We have been talking this team up, I included, and to be fear on a good day they are irresisteble. But the problem is we simply dont seem able to learn from our mistakes and Wenger does not look like he is going to start addressing our problems in such a manner we can see clear improvement I.E. goals conseeded from set pieces. I personally hate it when the fans turn on a player, as seams to have happened in Denilsons case, when they should be channeling their frustation to wards the management for selecting under performing players and failing to replace long term injured players. As an example wenger said recently that he had not belived that vermalen would be back this season. If he knew that why did he leave us with only 3 central defenders to cope with the run in, arguably the hardest part of the season.
Armory
I have to say I've detected absolutely zero in the way of a feel good factor amongst Arsenal fans following this result. Exactly the opposite actually.
Little Dutch
I'm not sure what circles you move in but you'd find it hard to discover much of a feel good factor amongst the bulk of gooner support. As for talking up the team a quick look around most blogs and football sites might just reveal the odd, slightly nervous voice, meekly trying to say not too loudly that things really aren't too bad but for most the sky is falling in as the club, management and team are coming part in front of our eyes. Those pointing out that we've put up a decent showing in all competitions this season even if we haven't achieved what we wanted are derided for failing to see the dire and pitiful state the club is in. We are still in with a shout at the PL title and even though we aren't favourites we are in with a much better shout 9 games from the end of the season than almost anyone, including the bulk of gooner supporters, were willing to give us at the beginning of the season. But dare to point out that we are at much shorter odds for the title with 9 games to go than we were with 38 and a whole heap of abuse will greet you. Feel good factor? Talking the team up? That's beyond a good many of our supporters. I'm not at all pessimistic for this club or the current team but I am very pessimistic about the type of shallow, conditional support we seem to have gathered around us over the Wenger years.
Amos.
Agree. I feel slightly depressed, possibly the worst 3 weeks that i can remember. 3 competition exits, 4 points dropped in 2 games. March has been a shi*ty month indeed.
paul_ownz
I share a lot of your frustration Armory but you know what......F'*k it. There's nothing we can do about our super glue and sellotape transfer policy, Zilch we can do to make Arsene work on set pieces. We have 9 games left to play, followed by zero football for the best part of 3 months so lets just get on with it, sing our hearts out, online prayer circles, do a Uri Geller style mind fix on Cesc's hamstrings and see what happens.
iceman10
Amos you would be surpriced how many gooners are telling me that it was a great comback and you dont have to dig deep to find those comments on many of the blogs, like it was a good day coming back from something that should never have happened.
Armory
Amos the fans are quite disgusting. I used to enoy the away games more because of how plastic the home support were, however the away support has been littered with filth. The voices for Wenger out has been growing, really is beyond ridiculous. I suppose when people set unrealistic expectations then any failure is magnified. I heard some people say that even if we wont the title it wouldnt be a great achievment as the league is weaker and we flopped out of the other 3 competions. Unbelievable
paul_ownz
I'm not sure that its the support collected over the AW years that are most vocal in their disappointment Amos, a lot of long term gooners are the ones that moan loudest. This is the longest period we have gone without a trophy since sites like Vital, Twitter and Facebook became major places to air views, I bet if they existed in the 80's it wouldn't have been much different.
iceman10
There would have been plenty of whinging and whining in pubs and bars around Highbury and beyond in the '80s and at one point in the midst of the barren '60s less than 5,000 turned out for a league game. Despite that I don't think there was ever the level of entitlement that exists now amongst much of the gooner support. In previous barren spells you'd have been grateful for anything at all to celebrate and being 2nd with even an outside chance of the title would have had previous supporters in levels of delirium unimaginable among the graceless, miserable lot that burden us now.
Amos.
These are the best of times and the worst of times. The consistency over the last thirteen years has been extraordinary and this season should be regarded in good light as well with us competing in all four competitions late into the season. Our football is a delight to all who watch it and long may it continue. But with the style of play and the talent in the squad we should be winning much more, Wenger and the players deserve it. I remember some very lean years under Bertie Mee in the seventies where I was excited about us reaching mid-table mediocrity in the old First Division. I didn’t expect much more from that squad and was overjoyed at the great heights of mid-table because at times there was a real threat of relegation. However, this current squad is oozing with talent and CAN win things, but before that can happen, some more tweaking is required. At the beginning of the season I thought that we would retain a top four spot and that hasn’t changed. I can see us finishing third.
Sir Henry
Amos that's not the point Iceman's making, and it's an accurate one he is too - is that most of these supporters whinging weren't accrued during the Wenger years, but before that.
shewore
Fighting back from 2-0 down against a team fighting relegation (and has been all season) that has already comfortably beaten us at home this season is absolutely nothing to be proud of.
LondonGooner
....although Jonas Olsson looked like a very useful defender.
LondonGooner
Meaningless point in my book whether they were accrued as supporters in the Wenger years or simply gained their pompous sense of entitlement in the Wenger era the point about them is just as valid. The trouble with those supporters is that they lack mental strength :)
Amos.
"Fighting back from 2-0 down against a team fighting relegation (and has been all season) that has already comfortably beaten us at home this season is absolutely nothing to be proud of." - spot-on LG, spot-on / again, no surprise on Saturday, tho actually thought we'd lose so for me it is a point rescued - still think we have a strong chance of finishing 3rd. And I only wish that Denilson & Almunia were the cause of all our problems.
jaelle
Miserable? Pompus? or just fans with their own beliefs on whats happening at the club?
iceman10
They're undoubtedly followers with their own beliefs on what's happening at the club just as there're others with their own beliefs about what is happening amongst a section of our supporters.
Amos.
Those who say AW hasn't adressed any of our problems since last season would be wrong. Last season we were left with Campbell and Silvestre as our CB pairing towards the end, this year we have Squillachi and Koscielny. That's an improvement in my opinion. I think Squillachi will turn out to be a decent player given an extended run in the team. Also last season Almunia was our first choice keeper, this year he is our third choice. I think we are definitely stronger in those areas. Unfortunately Denilson seems to have got worse leaving us short of good defensive midfielders but the emergence of Wilshere has helped in that area as well.
bowiecokemirror
If you step back from the portrait a bit, you can see there has been a huge improvement in the squad. Who would argue that the emergence of Szczesny, Djourou and Wilshere as first choice players isn't reason to be enthused? Are Nasri, Walcott, Sagna, Fabianski and Song not better players than they were 12 months ago? I think Koscielny has been an excellent addition, he made a big jump in levels from Ligue 1 mid table and I think he'll be some centre half next year now he's fully adapted. There's plenty of improvement if we look up from our navels for a few seconds.
Little Dutch
See that stat about Song? Amazing that he's the only player we have no real cover for as well.
shewore
It's a shame Frimpong got that serious injury as he looked really promising in the preseason matches and could have provied some cover for Song.
bowiecokemirror
I don't seem to remember so much doom and gloom. Give me a break we have a great chance to take out the EPL; and if we miss out so what thats the way life is. Who knows perhaps all of Manure stars, (pause got to sick there) will be knocked up, (hey Roo witha fat belly) and miss the rest of the season. We have been cursed over the past season with injuries but this could be our season. Everyone is talking up Chelsea and even the Tiny tots. At the beginning of the season it was just Chelsea to win now its Manures, me its Arsenals. Armory mate someone has been using your name on a blog and saying even if we win the EPL it will be still a failure, what a load of boll@rks. In 1961 when the Tiny tots won the cup and div one it was considered a miracle, first time in the 20th century. I for one will be very happy if we do win the EPL and I feel we have a real chance of doing so.
alwaysgunner
Miserable? Pompus? or just fans with their own beliefs on whats happening at the club? iceman10 - Well said that man! It appears, here, that if you don't have the same opinion as certain people you are branded a plastic/whinger/Johnny come lately......There is no golden rule to state whose opinion is right or wrong on something so subjective. Yet it's always the same people throwing names at those they don't agree with or have differing opinons.
LondonGooner
LD - I know Fabianski hasn't been throwing the ball into his own net every week recently, I think that's more to do with him being out injured? lol
LondonGooner
The failure to learn is the most disturbing aspect about this team. There is no doubt about their abilities. The defensive approach is just so poor amongst the team (and this is not just the defence, which has been getting too much of the criticism than justified), but the mid field which doesnt help out the defence. Who was marking the goal scorer for the 1st goal? Not Squillaci or Kosc, but a mid fielder. Almunia has to take the blame for the 2nd goal, but he is 3rd choice for a reason. I dont think this team can win trophies yet, as the defensive approach is not quite there for a title winning team. United are there for the taking, but not by this Arsenal team.
prits
Ok, I've gone thru my ranting & venting period, I've re-watched the game, read some very good & not so good blog analyses (and some *****-poor media punditry), spent a day on twitter getting caught in the middle of a gooner meltdown with various insults & compliments thrown my way and thought hard about the season overall with a view toward last season as comparison...and feeling more positive/less negative today overall. I can't join in the trashing of other gooners for being negative-I think there's a lot of precious nonsense about gooners being unique in their negativity. Nothing could be further from the truth, we are in fact quite average. You should listen to Chelsea fans. A good amount of time spent among other clubs from other leagues with their fans will tell you that. Still, it is amazing what happens to you when you dare to suggest that maybe-perhaps-possibly you're not part of the Denilson/Almunia hatefest and that they do have redeeming qualities. Esp. Denilson--the mere suggestion that he's not the worst footballer to have ever breathed life on this earth is a crime against humanity. That said, I was surprised that LD said nothing about Denilson's extremely erratic display on Saturday-much like Eboue's against Wigan 2 seasons ago when AW had to take him off too. Re Almunia & his rash decision to come out-looked like he just panicked & didn't trust Squillaci's pace v. Odemwinge. Looks like a freak-out moment, a total breakdown of trust in his defenders. He was trying to be a hero. As for WBrom's 1st goal-it was Squillaci's bad positioning that led to it-as well as his failure to heed the much-maligned Denilson's instructions to move up in the right position. It was also due to Almunia's failure to organize his defense properly. A shame these 2nd choice players just can't get into synch for our defense. Denilson's display negatively affected 3 players-Wilshere, Nasri & Squillaci. That said, Squillaci compensated for Denilson's errors heroically, he actually had a good game. And kudos to the manager for moving swiftly to make changes that had the right affect. Some have trashed AW for choosing Denilson but I can understand why he did it-he didn't have much choice with our injuries after all. It's tragic to see what's happened to Denilson-2 seasons ago it looked like he was on his way toward developing into a good transitional midfielder. But I think we underestimate the effect on the 4-3-3 on Denilson as well as Rosicky & maybe Bendtner. It just doesn't work for some players.
jaelle
Great post jaelle.
Deltaforce
The minimum requirement for a season is a CL spot and, with a bit of luck, we should manage that this season. My concern is the effect on the likes of Nasri, Fabregas, Van Persie, Wilshere and Walcott who frequently witness the fragility of our defence, not just this season, but over the course of the last few years and couple that with the perpetual injuries and ridiculous referring Arsenal FC has endured, it must have a huge de-motivating effect. So it wouldn’t surprise me if they were considering their options come the summer. We have good defenders but not a good defence ethic. Watching Man Utd and Barca recently has illustrated that if you lose the ball then you must work like billy-o to get it back. Seeing Messi, Villa, Hernandez and Rooney sprinting after a lost ball you can just hear that in their heads they’re saying, “give me the bloody ball back!” I don’t see that from Arshavin, RvP, Bendtner or Chamakh, and I don’t see the midfield sprinting back to help the poor defence out when we are (frequently) caught encamped in the opposition’s half either. Defending in numbers, from the front, and having the correct defensive strategy will shore up a lethargic display if we are not on our game.
Sir Henry
Jaelle what is your twitter name?
iceman10
iceman, this is my twitter page https://twitter.com/SandraHelena39
jaelle
Jaelle agreed totally. According to contributors on here Arsenal fans are the worst in the world. We're terrible, we're this, that and the other. Ok, so we may not be as positive as say a Rangers or Cardiff fan, but then we don't go out trashing an entire town centre on match day either, or like Galatasary fans stabbing opposition fans in the streets around the ground or the always reliable racist ultras in the eastern block and Italy, I'll bet they are all positive fans, great fans. Yet some people have the bloody cheek to call us terrible fans? Get some f****** perspective please.
LondonGooner
Sir Henry/Prits, agree with some aspects of your respective posts; but, last time I checked, United's defence has conceded more goals than ours even after the 2 goals debacle at the Hawthorns. The recent goal keeper defender howlers aside, I'd say we have had some solid defensive displays this season and only City and Chelsea have conceded less. Arshavin has also improved on his defensive side, lately. I can recall a few occasions when he's tracked a winger all the way to our goal area and put in some last ditch tackles. We have to be fair to the man. The other front 3 you mentioned do a lot of defensive play from the front, especially Chamakh and RvP. I admit Hernandez and Rooney tracking back is a more common sight. Guess we can't have it all.
Naijagunner
LG, in Brazil last month Corinthians fans assaulted a team bus and verbally abused Ronaldo because they were eliminated from the Copa Libertadores. They went on a weeks-long campaign of harrassment of players, manager, staff. Two yrs ago Flamengo fans at the team training ground threw homemade flares & molotovs at the players and staff. And Toronto FC's fans have been unbelievably abusive toward their players & manager in the last year-hurling obscenities repeatedly during and after games. I only wish gooners were the "worst" fans in the world. BTW, naija, re Denilson & selection in the national team - he's never been selected for the senior national team so I can't see him being affected by the Scotland friendly at the Emirates.
jaelle
if we s****inise all criticisms levelled on the team, they were all not far from the frustration of seeing the team failing to learn from their glaring deficiencies. let’s look at the chronology of our deterioration. during the henry-bergkamp-vieira-ljungberg-pires golden era, we were known as a team that can score a goal with only five touches from our box to the other end. no one had any idea at all on how to stop us – at least in the league. i supposed others got the cue soon from our poor performance in the cl where teams always crowded out the midfield and made the final third very compact. soon, many teams started to play 4-5-1 against us, a rare tactics then. yet it still didn’t work because players like henry, bergkamp & pires could conjure up something out of nothing & vieira could bulldoze the midfield while ljungberg was very difficult to mark because he has a very special ability to ghost into the box from deep & timing his run to perfection for simple tab ins (i supposed many did not give him enough credit for that). then, hatchet men were started to employ against us on top of the 4-5-1 tactics, a evilest strategy devised by non other than fat sam. soon they also realized that we were very vulnerable to long balls & set pieces. thus, rough house tactic + 4-5-1 + long balls + set pieces became a deadly combination and the only tactic against us. this potent recipe of destruction coincided with the juncture where henry began to become injury prone & no longer had the support of the other aforementioned legends. we were left with players like gilberto, flamini, denilson and a teenage fabregas. hleb, rosicky , eduardo, eboue and walcott took their turns from the flanks. when eboue was the most direct player among the rest, you know you have a problem (remember how walcott always seemed to be running only to the corner pole then?) then was when the sideway passing disease began. i reckon that if other teams were still willing to open up their game against us, 9 out of 10 times, they could still be ripped apart (except barca). but then again, who would do it? not even mu & chelsea. they were happy to allow us to have the ball. they only need to administer the well tested strategy and wait for the right time to kill us off . “one shot on target, one goal” against us started to be a norm. things got from bad to worse when we began to become panicky whenever we conceded a corner or set piece. it was very painful to watch how we would dominate 65% possession of a game and lost in all in the first corner against us. next our goalkeepers started to flop. lehmann became more erratic & he was subsequently replaced by the much maligned almunia. next we had to endure a period of flappyhanski horror shows before going back to almunia. we also started to have the tendency of self-implosion beginning with the infamous birmingham game and became more frequent i.e. against wigan, spud, newcastle etc. in superfacial, it is easy to blame the goalkeepers and the mentality of players. the real underlying factor is actually our tactic and fans were always execrated here if there is any hint that wenger is being criticised. goalkeepers to a certain extend looked bad because we simply do not have the right personal who is physically imposing enough to defend counter attacks, corners and set pieces. how many six footers we have now from the midfield? also we always used cb who were agile and who could bring the ball out from tight spots. how many sol campbell are there in this world? our defending high up the pitch combined with wingbacks always put the goalkeeper at precarious positions. on the self-implosion, it is no coincidence that it always happened at the last 20 mins of the game. to keep possession of over 65% for 90 minutes, a lot of runnings are required, especially so given the employment of our short passing. by 70 mins, our legs are gone and if teams started to substitute in pacy players combined with long ball or set pieces we could not cope. at the risk of repeating myself, that is precisely why we seemed have more players with muscular injuries compared to other teams. the inefficiency of running around and playing sideway passing takes its toll. i do not agree to the view that criticising our team showed we do not love it. it is exactly the opposite. we criticize because we care. 6 years and counting for crying out loud, what have we done to right the wrong? why is happening to our pay scale? when lousy players are paid 65k pw and our best players are only paid 80k pw, you know something is not right. best players will leave and lousy players will not give a damn to up their games
Joe_@**
Good perspective there, Jaelle. I always looked at it from the fact that having captained the Junior side (U-16?) and played for the U-20s, a natural progression for him should be the senior team, but it sure doesn't appear like he will be getting a look-in, any time soon. It could weigh on his mind and he begins to feel sorry for himself and believe he's (probably) not good enough. Just my way to make an excuse for the lad; used to like him a lot and hoped for more from him.
Naijagunner
The greatest sensitivity and least perspective seems to me to be among those most critical of the team and the players (though it no doubt exists in the other, but far smaller, extreme). It's clear that there are many redeeming qualities for those open to them and those that aren't open to them are the ones struggling with perspective for me. Criticism seems to be a one way street with some. Fine see the weaknesses in the team - they are always there to some extent - even the 'invincibles' in our 'golden' era failed to win trophies in more seasons than they won them - but dare criticise some supporters for being blind to the good things that must be there for the club to have accomplished as much as it has - and is still achieving - and the response appears to be that all supporters should be beyond reproach. That's just nonsense. Supporters are just as capable of being rubbish supporters as some players can be rubbish players - even more so. Good to see that Jaelle balances her criticism of Denilson with some understanding. For me his removal from the game had less to do with his performance at the weekend as tactical need - his role was to some extent redundant having gone a goal down so early. Bringing a more attacking player into midfield in the form of Nasri while replacing Nasri's role with a forward made sense as we'd been chasing the game for the first half but Denilson did the things he was supposed to do, passing, tackling and intercepting pretty well - he just wasn't able to affect the game in the way that became more urgent as it went on.
Amos.
Thanks Jaelle
iceman10
Amos what game did you watch, because the one I saw Denilson had a mare and Wenger did him an unintentional favour by hauling his ass off for a tactical substitution. It seems it isn't just the critical that are almost ignorantly blind to what they don't want to see....
LondonGooner
You seem to think that there can only be two views on Denilson's performance in the game at the weekend. Either he was good or he had a mare. I happen to think he was just ineffective and that we had little option in the context of the objective remaining this season than to adopt a more attacking format which led to two midfielders being sacrificed in favour of two forwards. But I accept that you didn't see it. :)
Amos.
@ Jaelle: I think in theory the shift from 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3 system should suit Denilson more than any other player. He doesn't have the right qualities to play as the main attacking or defensive midfielder in a 4-4-2, so as the in-between guy he can do his thing without having to be relied upon for attacking thrust and his mediocre tackling ability and lack of pace tracking back won't be exposed. Obviously I'm not a great fan of him, but I do like the stability he offers when he's in form and we have a full-strength attacking lineup. When we are under strength, he is exposed. Wilshere already does what Denilson does, except with more verve and creativity.
krismon1
Denilson was mainly ineffective because of his performance, not because of the way the Baggies set up. But i'm sure people can accept that you can't see that.
shewore
I doubt that I'm on my own in my view that his role was to a large extent redundant in the way the game panned out but tell me what specific aspect(s) of his performance did you think let him down?
Amos.
His passing was worse than usual, other players don't feel confident in giving him the ball, magnified when we're losing as we need to actually drive forward, if his passing was more accurate & up to half decent standard that he'd set himself a year or so back then i'm pretty sure he would've stayed on for at least a bit longer. It's unlike Wenger to acknowledge he's set the team up completely wrong by hooking someone that early.
shewore
His passing? That's surprising. Apparently nobody passed as frequently or as accurately as he did in that game. 65 passes 56 successful in 45 minutes play - 49% of passes in the attacking half. Nobody else came near to matching that number of accurate passes in the time he played. Perhaps you just didn't see it :)
Amos.
Amos - it's good of you to stick up for Denilson and be fair on him, but his passing stats can be misleading because the majority of them are 5 yard passes. I appreciate part of his game is to keep the ball moving and Gilberto used to do much the same thing, but Denilson doesn't appear to provide the same amount of insurance defensively as Gilberto used. Granted he's only 23, but he should be able to offer more I feel. I do feel for him because at his stage he needs to be playing regularly and that's where I think fans need to lay off players who aren't getting a regular run in the side to come in and be as effective as those they replace.
Gooner_Vin
I'm not sticking up for Denilson. I think the decision to take him off, and shortly after Ramsey and go for a more attacking option was needed - even if we did concede a goal shortly after. (Ironically from a ball that the WB player had all the time in the world to pick out as nobody closed him down). Sometimes the pattern of the game dictates the decisions that have to be made and not just players performances. As for his passing stats I'd accept that he, like many playing his role will have a number of safe passes in his stats though you exaggerate the extent of them. A good part of his job is to keep the ball moving and to try at set the tempo. There are games and game situations in which that is more important than others. Having conceded a goal so early and struggled thereafter to fashion enough good chances those abilities were redundant and something more direct needed but that doesn't make him a poor player.
Amos.
Why were they redundant? We should be attacking and looking to score against WBA most of the time, so why take him off when we're a goal down? As if scoring is suddenly more urgent, we should be looking to score when it's 0-0 away at relegation battlers all the time anyway. I don't subscribe to it, he doesn't serve much of a purpose as has been said he doesn't provide that much insurance. And I think if you look at his passes completion rate it's about 80%? And then look at where they were made, no invention.
shewore
His pass completion rate in this game was 86% which is pretty good but Denilson has the best pass completion rate in the squad at 90.8%. Only Diaby gets close. But you have to factor in the frequency of passing along with the accuracy to see what he does bring. What happens is that though Denilson made plenty of good passes ( and remember that 49% were in the attacking half) he made 9 unsuccessful passes. As a proportion of a pretty impressive number of passes in the time he played it was pretty small but in a frustrating first half in which we were chasing a game that we really needed to win those 9 unsuccessful passes and 2 or 3 in particular (even though Arshavin and Nasri made as many in the same time) from a player that has been marked in some supporters minds are what sticks in those same minds. In the same situation over a long period of time Wenger will almost always take of a defensive midfielder to put a more attacking player on. So many supporters just look and don't see at all.
Amos.
Agree on a lot of that, but he was still poor on Sat! Which is what I thought was the debate.
shewore
He wasn't effective enough to stay on the pitch on Saturday even though he wasn't really any poorer or even as poor as some other players but in that situation when you are chasing the game you really need to win you'd always want say a Nasri or Arshavin on the pitch rather than a Denilson (or most other primarily holding midefielders) simply because they are more likely to score or enable someone else to score even if there is a greater risk that you'll concede.
Amos.
There is that, but the greater risk thing, i'm not sure i agree. His defensive qualities are about as limited as his attacking prowess.
shewore
Tackling then? Our most successful tacklers in the PL this season based on numbers of tackles won are Song and Clichy. Song averages a successful tackle every 34 minutes played, Clichy every 31 minutes and Denilson every 30 minutes.
Amos.
From what position are they tackling from? A mistake on their part? Recovering after giving the ball away? Tackling a brilliant run? Shimmying someone on to their weaker foot? Forcing someone to pass it sideways or backwards? Those stats don't mean a lot to me.
shewore
For certain Wenger and co., will be using far more refined stats than those that are available in the public domain but whatever their limitations (they always are and they'll be just as limited for all the others he's being compared with too) they should at the very least give pause to those claiming his passing is poor and/or he is defensively limited. Stats only ever mean anything when they provide support for an opinion. At any other time they are completely useless.
Amos.
I would like to see what percentage of his passes were forward. He always goes side to side.
paul_ownz
In the West Brom game a little over 60% were forward passes and as I've mentioned before 49% were made in the attacking half. But part of his strength is the ability to keep the ball moving. You'll often find that the players making the greater proportion of sideways or backwards passes are the forwards and those making the most forward passes are the defenders. If you think about it the reasons are pretty obvious. It's a myth that Denilson only passes sideways - generally he keeps the play moving positively.
Amos.
Its not a myth when i see it happening every week
paul_ownz
An example of where stats can be meaningless is when we played L.Orient and completed some record 900 odd passes and denilson 130 odd passes yet created very few chances. He is very keen to get on the ball and look for space, receive it and pass it easy more often than not sideways. Put it this way, he never puts someone in on goal or a lob over the top, or a through ball down the line for a winger. If your saying thats because he is a DMF then his defensive duties are hardly great.
paul_ownz
I counted at least 2 attempts at an incisive pass by Denilson in the WBA game and these were forward passes. His strength is his ability to make himself always available, always moving into position for a pass and always keeping things moving for the side. Admittedly, he falls short in the 'clean' tackling department but he does intercept quite a few passes which go unnoticed because the move was foiled.
Naijagunner
A whole 2 incisive passes ine 1 game. Wow i was wrong
paul_ownz
Well, I said "at least"; and that, for a player accused of sideways passing. He did play RvP into a forward area and (I think it was) Arshavin to the left channel. Lol!
Naijagunner
Just how many defence splitting through balls is it we're saying Song play every week? It's a bit like having a pop at Robin for not saving more penalties! Naija is absolutely right, next time an Arsenal player finds himself crowded out, watch for the first player to come over and give him an outlet.
Little Dutch
@ LD, I think a major difference is that Song seems to shield the defence a lot better, and thus he doesn't carry a great expectation to be creative. Denilson certainly provides something to the team, but my question is simply "Is it enough?" I actually think Denilson's strengths and weaknesses are a microcosm for Arsenal in general. His passing stats are always extremely impressive, constantly one of the best in the league, yet how many of those passes actually lead to something substantive? Likewise, Arsenal can have 75% of possession in games yet not really look like scoring. Likewise, even though he makes few errors overall, those errors he does make can turn out to be costly (giving away penalties, sluggish tracking back leading to breakaway goals). Just like Arsenal as a whole.
krismon1
I think you'll find Song gives different qualities in different games. He is generally able to contribute more positively when defending set piece situations for example. In other games we benefit from the greater control of the game that players like Denilson bring. Sadly control wasn't what we needed so much at the weekend as we'd already relinquished control to a large extent by conceding early on and going in a half time still chasing the game. It was the right decision to take Denilson off at the weekend, just as it was also the right decision to take Ramsey, off and replace them both with forwards. Not because Denilson is a bad player or was even playing that poorly. In the context of the game situation his particular skills were just redundant that's all. There'll be other games where they'll be just what we need.
Amos.
One problem for us when we play either Denilson or Diaby is that they really slow the game down. Obviously we don't need to be going full-steam-ahead for 90 minutes, but our counter-attacking game is not what it used to be. I think we give teams far too much time to get all their men behind the ball. Our lack of urgency in the second half against Man U was disgraceful, in comparison to the way they broke against us. Interestingly with Diaby this seems to be a more recent negative development in his game; I remember a time when he was regularly starting and finishing off flowing moves out of defence.
krismon1
On average Denilson passes the ball more frequently than any other player in the squad averaging a pass every 57 seconds. Fabregas every 71 seconds while Diaby is 4th on 84 seconds just behind Song on 83. Whatever such figures tell you they don't indicate that Denilson in particular, or Diaby are slowing the game down.
Amos.
Do me a favour, Diaby not slowing the game down?? What does your eyes tell you? Sunderland at home the other week?
shewore
Your eyes will often tell you what your mind expects to see. It's always possible to pick instances which might, superficially at least, support received wisdom. Whether you use any other information that may be provided to consider whether that received wisdom can be supported or not is up to you but unless you are in the habit of dismissing all conflicting information out of hand it's something you'd need to reconcile.
Amos.
Facts distort truth / exception that proves the rule / different perspective / passes per second, yada yada yada. If we're looking to break, and our CB passes it out to Diaby, who in turn, passes it straight back to the CB, then that's gonna really help his passes per second stats, but it aint half gonna slow the whole move down. Anyway, we need to get behind them for the remainder of this season now as we have no choice, but hopefully, Denilson, Diaby, Rosicky at least cards have been marked for the summer.
shewore
I agree that some data can be inconvenient when you're determined to cling to what a jaundiced eye will sometimes tell you. Bringing a CB into play may slow play down it may speed it up. Diaby could always hoof it upfield instead I suppose. Whether cards have been marked or not I'm pretty sure that those with the power to make decisions will be looking to analyse performances on a more forensic basis than a good many supporters are able to.
Amos.
Quite, and it's great that you point that out, on a fan's forum, where i'm sure a good many supporters are unable to provide that sort of forensic analysis.
shewore
It's there if you put your mind to it. At least some form of rational analysis is possible - you don't have to rely entirely on received wisdom. That should always be challenged. :)
Amos.
I think we can all agree on one thing, Denilson is not particularly good at anything majorly beneficial to the team. You can spout as many passing stats as you want, even in the "attacking half" (btw, that could mean 2 yards over the halfway line, huge, massive, humongous difference between that and 2 yards behind the half way line eh), they were still sideways and over 5 yards. At WBA he was rubbish, not enough pace, not enough effort, not enough creativity, physically weak, not a good tackler, cannot head the ball and doesn't score goals, so what actually does he do? Will he ever put pressure ont he players in front of him in the pecking order which is what model squad players should be doing? No. Not good enough for Arsenal end of imo. There are many other players in the squad I can say the same thing about, but someone mentioned Denilson and this is where the conversation has taken us.
LondonGooner
If Denilson were as good as his stats make out he would be a regular in this team and in the Brazil squad he's not, he's behind Lucas and Sandro amongst others. When he 1st came on the scene he looked the real deal but ever since he had his back injury he's regressed and probably wont be here next season........unless Wenger keeps players soley based on stats.
iceman10
Do me a favour, Diaby not slowing the game down?? What does your eyes tell you? Sunderland at home the other week? shewore -He's winding you up mate, plain and simple. I was at the Suynderlandf game and Diaby was awful, he slowed the game down, gave away passes, dribbled into trouble and played crap. What did your eyes tell you at the game Amos......?
LondonGooner
I think sometimes Amos you group all Arsenal fans into one category. This "myth" (a word you like to use) that all negative comments on a player are people jumping on a bandwagon. I judge players on what i see on the pitch. I have been to 30+ games this season and my eyes do not lie to me. I dont listen to what others says, a lot of it is turd. Like i have stated before Denilson is very good at making himself available for a pass, plays it easy and feeds the creative players. However for me he gets caught out too often, does not track the man, slow reacting, not a great tackler, not creative. For me he has not shown a great lot of progress, and in some instances gone backwards. Basically we need someone better
paul_ownz
You say tomato i say tomayto....i say Denilson adds no value, you say prove it, i say watch the game, you say he passes quickly, i say that doesn't mean a lot and can be clouded, you say you know and that Arsenal use much better analysis, I say i use my eyes, you say use better analysis, i say it's not available to a forensic level, you say it is, i don't have a subscription to opta. It's all semantics. If you were a juror for the Harold Shipman trial amos there'd be hung jury after hung jury.
shewore
I wont write lol because its gay, but i am laughing out.
paul_ownz
You know what, I've been thinking and my take is that this team has mental strength and fortitude, it has talent and quality, it has most things. The thing it seems to lack is the defensive part of the game. It's not just about centre-backs or goalkeepers. It's about how they are organised to defend and their attitude towards defense collectivelly. Both those things can be worked on. If we can sort them out, we'd be capable of nicking games 1-0 and getting through to finals and winning titles.
Gooner_Vin
I haven't said Denilson or Diaby are great players - or poor players for that matter. I certainly haven't said anyone has to prove anything at all about any player. All I've done is to provide some information. What you make of it or what you do with it, if anything at all is up to you. It's hilarious to see the effect that potentially contradictory information which might question entrenched views can have though :)
Amos.
Vin I think we had our defensive situation licked, mate. that back 5 with WS in goal was looking better and better.... then, shock of all shocks - der der derrr... INJURIES. My main gripe this season with Wenger has been lack of cover for Song's position.
shewore
I heard Frimpong was meant to emerge this season as back up for Song, but realistically he should of dipped into his pockets. Will he strengthen this summer significantly or will he talk about getting real quality if its available, get to August and say the market was impossible to do business in.
paul_ownz
Ha, and then when we get the temerity to get the hump with it we get shouted down for not singling out the real quality. Oooh, I do love real quality. Only if it's available though.
shewore
@ Amos: Denilson does usually pass it quite quickly, yet slows the game down by virtue of where he passes it - often backwards or to someone who will have to pass it straight back to him. Stats can be telling but can also tell only part of the story, as I'm sure you recognise. For example, stats say that our defence is as good or better than United's and I don't think anyone really thinks that's the case (although I agree our defensive problems are blown out of proportion).
krismon1
It just isn't true that Denilson only passes sideways or backwards or that anything about his passing slows the game down at all but it might be instructive to watch Barca's passing patterns. There are other things he lacks, other weaknesses in his game just as there are in almost every player but that one is pure invention. As I've said all I've done is to provide information. If you are wedded enough to your opinion or received wisdom you can just dismiss anything that challenges it. As for ManU's defence here is an observation for you. Their defence is weaker than ours (on goals conceded) away from home where they have to defend more. It's strongest (on the same basis) than ours at home where you'd imagine they'd attack more (they've certainly scored more) and have to defend less. So are they really defensively stronger than we are or is attack simply the best form of defence?
Amos.
Dunno maybe they let the opposition have possession for as long as they like completely toothlessly and then score whenever they have the chance to break. Like, I dunno, their latest FA cup tie? Don't think Denilson slows the game like Diaby does but comparing to Barcelona is pointless, absolutely pointless, their workrate is a different stratosphere to ours. Always someone available, and if there isn't someone obviously available, they have the players when on the ball to pick a pass that the average punter can't, or player that's not as good.
shewore
In the context of a discussion about passing patterns I would think Barca as an example is far from pointless. Workrate is something different though I guess the number of passes you make in a game might in part reflect that. As for ManU they dominate possession at home where their stats in home games compares favourably with ours but in any event you'd imagine a counter attacking strategy would be even more effective away from home. Doesn't really answer the conundrum though does it.
Amos.
I'm stopping.
shewore
You did sometime back really. :)
Amos.
I haven't said Denilson or Diaby are great players - or poor players for that matter. It's hilarious to see the effect that potentially contradictory information which might question entrenched views can have though :) Amos The most hilarious thing is that Shewore made a point about you neither agreeing or disagreeing with anything and that is exactly what you repsonded with. Some poeple have an opinion and voice it, others enjoy the feel of a fence pole up their arse while they sit on it.....
LondonGooner
....and others prefer the comfort of their head up their arses as they pontificate. The opinion is most definitely there for those with the wit to see it. Have I agreed or disagreed with the contention that Denilson slows the game down? Agreed or disagreed that Denilson's passing is poor or that he doesn't have any defensive attributes? It's there for those that want to see it and amusing to see how desperately some will wish to avoid doing so. The more so when many are determined to see things as only black or white, on or off, yes or no, brilliant or rubbish. A little bit of balance enabling both the good and the not so good to be seen isn't such a bad position to take up really. If you can believe that not thinking a player can only be one of either 'great' or 'poor' is the same as not having an opinion at all then you're the one that needs to get down and take another perspective.
Amos.
 

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