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Stoke City 3 Arsenal 1

My Sunday started with a weary 5am alarm call. Having only arrived home from my nephew`s 18th birthday celebrations some three hours earlier, the temples were thumping, the red wine and London Pride propulsing through like some kind of Bacchalian wave of nausea inducing windsurfing. Pissing rain greeted our night bus journey to North London to pick up the coach at Queensland Road. Given that I`m currently reading Ian Kershaw`s acclaimed biography of Adolf Hitler, the conversation had turned to genocide and we hadn`t yet reached 7.30am. Some away games are better than others you know. The highlight of our day was to arrive some half an hour before kick off. Against our better will, we decided to have a couple of pre match liveners in the nearby Harvester pub. Terry, also suffering from the night before, found the pints weren`t going down well. We were ready to leave for the ground and he still had 80% of his Stella in his pint glass. Ever adverse to wasting sweet nectar, he took the ill advised decision to neck the whole thing. Which drew a round of applause. Until of course the previous night`s excess took hold of his guts and he promptly threw up- a good portion of the liquid chunder attaching itself to Luigi`s white tee shirt. It was to be the high point of the day; we should have gone home then.

There was no requirement to motivate the away support. The feeling between the two teams is mired in mutual dislike. Defiant chants of "There`s only one Aaron Ramsey" were countered by the home masses responding, "We`re Stoke City, we`ll play how we want." The team too should have found motivation enough. This morning, Stoke will feel vindicated in every sense. The mocking of the manager, the chants of "boring, boring" to our sustained, yet impotent spells of aimless passing and the home support gleefully labelling themselves "the rugby team" brought no response, no pride in the reaction. Te manager often talks about Arsenal playing the game we believe it should be played. After yesterday, I wonder how much the players do believe in it. They did nothing to protect the style they eulogise yesterday as the insults showered down on them. It was like watching a puppy whimper and curl up in the corner after being hit on the nose with a rolled up newspaper.

Arsenal began the game with aimless, slow, excruciatingly laboured passing. Still think we don`t need Cesc? Stoke knew what the other 19 teams in the Premiership know. Set up with two banks of four, force Arsenal out wide, they`ll be forced to toss in a cross that nobody will be remotely interested in attacking and the ball will be cleared and the whole process will start over again. You don`t have to do anything special to keep Arsenal out at the moment, 8 trained monkeys could do it. Just stay on the edge of the box and keep your position. Aaron Ramsey lifted a through ball to van Persie in the penalty area, but the Dutchman tried too hard to shift the ball onto his favoured left foot and blazed the ball well over the bar. Stoke weren`t exactly looking threatening or imposing, but it mattered little. In the circumstances, Arsenal are usually content to just gift the opposition a goal or two in rib tickling scenarios.

The first warning siren came when Szczesny failed to deal with Whelan`s cross and Jermaine Pennant hooked the loose ball just wide. But Stoke soon did break the deadlock with the bare minimum of effort. Arshavin tracked Pennant back to the corner flag, initially; he made a good, clean tackle. But then immediately eradicated any good work with a quite idiotic shove with Pennant going nowhere. Obviously, Arsenal really outdo themselves when it comes to defending set pieces, and they were to do so again. Pennant swung in a straightforward delivery, Djourou, who was meant to be picking up Jones, collided with Koscielny and Jones ran into the six yard box unchecked and just let the ball hit his knee and dribble into the net. He didn`t even jump or attack the ball. He stood there. It hit him. It went in. For a professional football team, never mind one that harbours title ambitions, that is a quite disgraceful goal to concede. Where is your bloody self respect boys?

Not content with defending amateurishly from set plays, the Gunners felt like dreaming up new and improved ways of making us all giggle uncontrollably at their defensive competence. Jermaine Pennant picked the ball up in central midfield. Djourou and Sagna ran away from him like giddy little girls playing kiss chase in the playground, the midfield trio stood idly with hands on hips and Pennant, not believing his luck, simply strolled into the open space and unleashed a dipping shot, which deflected off of Djourou and flew into the net. To call it "schoolboy" defending would be to insult the footballing intelligence of school boys. Utter, utter farce. I almost laughed at them. Almost.

At this point, I`m tempted to say Arsenal went into meltdown, but if what had proceeded prior to the end of the first half was not meltdown, then we probably inhabited some kind of post apocalyptic wasteland. Arsenal could and should have been 3-0 down when Jon Walters walked easily past Bacary Sagna in the area but curled his effort onto the bar. Arsenal passed the ball around midfield a bit. Which was nice. The sight of Chamakh and Bendtner warming up more vigorously than their comrades at half time gave me some minute hope. Huzzah! He`s realised that they system isn`t working; perhaps we have two players ready to contest some balls into the box now, since we`re being forced to throw crosses in. But no, of course we played exactly the same system and put our best header of the ball on the left wing. Because that tactic bought so much joy against Blackburn, Sunderland, Liverpool etc, etc, etc. Bendtner, for his part, carried the fight and curled a shot just wide from the edge of the area. Chamakh, whilst willing, fell to pieces the second he got close to the penalty area. Van Persie teed him up on the edge of the area, the chance to shoot opened up and….he tripped over the ball. Then sent the world`s tamest shot well wide.

Gallows humour is something the British are very adept at and, as such, the abject darkness of the performance was neatly summed up by a group of gentlemen behind me who began to chant, "Let`s pretend we`ve won the league" followed by an ironic chorus of "champions!" I really wish more people would have taken to it so it had been audible to the players. Booing and bickering doesn`t provide much effect because it just sounds bitter and a bit immature. Hearing a chant like that would have got the message through in a way that no impotent, willy waving march on away kit colours could ever hope to achieve. Stoke threatened to stretch their lead as Arsenal pushed. Danny Pugh broke free on the right. Glenn Whelan motored past a static Arsenal midfield to run unchallenged onto Pugh`s simple through ball, but Szczesny tipped his shot around the post.

The Gunners were denied a consolation when Bendtner squeezed the ball through a throng of bodies to van Persie, but Begovic sprawled at the feet of van Persie to make an excellent save. It was the defining difference between the sides, on the rare occasions we got around Stoke; their players were willing to put everything on the line to keep the ball out. Arsenal exploded like rat bags in the same situations. Tempers flared briefly when Wilshere bared his studs in a hard tackle on Jermaine Pennant. Pennant took umbrage, as did Wilkinson, who somehow went unpunished for his retributory scythe on Wilshere. Both Pennant and Wilshere were booked. Jack was lucky to escape further sanction. Though he took the ball, he knew what he was doing by going in with his studs up. It was reckless, had he missed the tackle Pennant would have been in trouble. There are much better ways for Jack to channel his frustration. In a converse way, it was nice to see one player frustrated at what was going on. But he`d be better off showing it in other ways. Stoke fans ironically chanted, "Arsene Wenger, he didn`t see that." My attempt at starting the away fans with a response of "he`s not that type of player" went unheralded. Shame.

With ten minutes left, Arsenal gave themselves a life line. Tomas Rosicky nudged the ball towards van Persie and, seemingly out of sheer frustration, motored into the box and lashed a right footed shot underneath Asmir Begovic. 21 goals in 2011, goals in each of our last away games. One bright note of a quite awful three months has been that he belongs to us. He only needs a quarter of an inch in the box and he scores. He has that decisiveness and belief in what he does in the area that few other Arsenal players have. But just as you were thinking an unlikely comeback was on the cards, more Keystone Cops defending. Danny Pugh`s shot dribbled towards Arsenal`s goal, Johan Djourou produced a clearance that, again, deserves to be laughed at, pure and simple. The ball fell straight to Jon Walters who poked the ball past Szczesny and killed Arsenal`s revival before it had even started. Arsenal need to be subjected to a few days of Clockwork Orange style treatment. The team should have their eyes held open with hooks and be forced to watch those three goals over and over again to a soundtrack of Jason Donovan singing Nirvana covers. Honestly, they should be completely and utterly ashamed of the defending in each of the three goals, if it didn`t keep some of them awake last night, there`s something enormously wrong. What strikes me is the complete lack of professional pride and self respect in conceding such goals.

That`s not simply a criticism of the centre halves- for what it is worth I thought Koscielny was one of the few players that played at full tilt. The team simply do not have any respect for that side of the game and it`s becoming ludicrously repetitive. This scenario is becoming a tad worrying, it feels like we are constantly psycho analysing the players after another dreary, below par performance. Is it self pity? The manager seemed to point to a lack of motivation. Why are both or either of those things pouring out of these players? Are they not listening to the manager anymore? Or are they incapable of following his instructions? Given the football they were playing at the turn of the year, I can`t believe it`s down to ability. Whatever it is, it needs to change and fast. The 4-3-3 is a system that has clearly now been snuffed out by even the most mediocre defences (Birmingham have won 4 of their last 22, Bolton 1 of their last 5, either side of drawing at the Emirates, Sunderland were beaten five times each). The players obviously have motivation issues for the next two league fixtures, so an experimentation with another system with a long view to next season is a must. Not being flexible enough to adapt style and system makes us easy to play against when we are in any sort of a funk confidence wise. Some players need to ask themselves big questions regarding what they want for their Arsenal careers. I can`t help feeling the last two games are going to be an audition of sorts in the manager`s mind.LD.

53.SZCZESNY, 3.SAGNA, 20.DJOUROU, 6.KOSCIELNY, 28.GIBBS, 17.SONG (7.Rosicky `79), 19.WILSHERE, 16.RAMSEY (29.Chamakh H/T), 14.WALCOTT, 23.ARSHAVIN (52.Bendtner H/T), 10.v.PERSIE(capt). Unused: 5.Vermaelen, 13.Lehmann, 18.Squillaci, 27.Eboue.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday May 9 2011

Time: 2:23PM

Your Comments

Not the best of away days. The pass from Rosicky was a bit more than a nudge and it found Chamakh who nudged it onto RvP. Small things that illustrate much that was missing for most of the game yesterday. Such as Pennants cross skimming RvP's head before deflecting off Jones. Had he made greater contact he might have cleared it had he missed it Szczesny might well have claimed it. As with Pennant's goal sometimes the percentages just don't go your way which is what Stoke's game is founded on. Having said that Ramsey and Wilshere's energy and enthusiasm (or the hope that Arshavin might produce an all too rare piece of magic) is no replacement for Cesc's and Nasri's guile and until Rosicky came on it only existed at all in the presence of RvP.
Amos.
I must say from where I was, I fully expected RvP to meet the header and he fluffed it big time- which may have contributed to the lapse in concentration. But Jones being able to stand still in the area and have the ball hit him and Pennant being able to walk about 10 yards with the ball with no challenge and Djourou clearing the ball with all the conviction of a toddler waddling up to kick a football for the first time bare little relation to percentages. The ricochets might have borne out in percentages, but there was an awful, awful lot could have been done in the build up to all 3 before any "lucky" bounces were forthcoming.
Little Dutch
Also have to notice, why do we put so much pressure on Gibbs and Sagna? Why cant our midfielders bring the ball out? Why was Koscienly bringing it out more than jack and song? Why does everyone, Defender, midfielder, striker, always give the ball to Sagna or gibbs? Why in the first half did i see gibbs and sagna making more runs in the box than arshavin and waclott? T.T
bootoo
Largely, because teams squeeze the middle of the pitch, knowing how little threat we offer when the ball goes out wide. It's often easier for a centre half to bring the ball out because 9 man defences want to keep their shape, so don't come rushing out to press defensive players. Remember Sol's goal at Pompey a few years back. Same thing.
Little Dutch
The wind from that corner might have played a part in RvP's failure to clear the ball. I probably shouldn't mention this for the same reasons that Arsene didn't and Stoke were fully entitled to push the percentages their way in leaving the grass longer than usual which is why players were losing their footing, finding the bounce hard to read, having difficulty getting the ball out from their feet, maybe the reason why Djourou was so hesitant in attacking the ball and trying to clear with his wrong foot. All fair enough of course Charles Hughes and Howard Wilkinson would be proud of Pulis but whereas ManU have a few players long enough in the tooth to deal with such things we had a few too many for which it was still a little new. Small things again but it is only about dealing with small things better. Maybe Wenger sent the wrong team out in the first place, personally I think he did, though but for two ricochets it might not have been.
Amos.
Sounds like excuses to me. We were poor from start to finish and long grass does not excuse a lack of effort and pride. Utter rubbish.
LondonGooner
Yes - I guessed the lack of winning mentality, predictable tactics, don't practice defending myths would be much simpler and safer ground for discussion. :)
Amos.
There was little more than a breeze in that corner of the ground. If there wasn't, you have to ask why we didn't use the same thing to our advantage in the second half. Especially as we had two very good headers of the ball on the pitch.
Little Dutch
I only watched the game on TV but there was much more than a breeze at that point which the corner flags and commentary showed to some effect. The wind dropped in the second half but I'm not sure that the wind helps headers of the ball anyway. It's difficult enough to judge the flight in normal conditions if keepers are to be believed.
Amos.
Actually it was LD who mentioned a complete lack of pride, I just reiterated those thoughts, although you only take umbrage when I say it and not LD, strange as well as hypocritical. Yeah as I thought, pathetic excuse making....
LondonGooner
Lack of winning mentality is probably a myth; I have no idea what they practice on the training ground so can't comment on that; but how can you suggest predictable tactics are a myth with this team? Or is playing the same way against every team no matter how they set up somehow not predictable? The 4-3-3 didn't work in the first half so throwing on two tall strikers made sense- until presumably they were instructed to play on the wings in essentially the same broken 4-3-3. I agree with Tim- the best use of the final two matches is to try different formations and serve as an audition for next season- some players had an off day after being excellent all season (Sagna comes to mind), while others like Djourou and Gibbs really should be playing elsewhere.
elbondo
No umbrage taken here at any time - nor did I mention anything about a lack of pride. Though as it happens I don't think that played a part in the performance most of the players we fielded and certainly not collectively. They kept pushing to get back into the game throughout. The aimless passing LD refers to was simply because we didn't have anyone other than RvP on the pitch able to create anything - until a little too late.
Amos.
The wind typically comes in from the other side of the ground as there's no natural barrier behind those corners, just clear space. The end we conceded the goal has two high banks and a dual carriageway beside it. The wind whistles in from the other end, but not the South End so much. I was stood there and didn't feel anything out of the ordinary. Even so, RvP misjudged the flight of the ball, but Djourou really switched off and should have stuck with his man. I was struck by the way Abdoulaye Faye- though ungraceful, was launching himself at every header and it looked so stark compared to our defensive commitment; an area in which- with the exception of Koscielny- we didn't break much of a sweat in all afternoon.
Little Dutch
If our tactics are anymore predictable than ManU's than why is our away performance so much better than theirs? The only thing predictable about ManU if their home form - away it's quite different so have managers worked out how to play them away but they have something else going for them at home? If we're more predictable than Chelsea or Man City how have they managed to lose more games than we have. Our tactics might lack effectiveness at times but that doesn't make them predictable just because the opinion is a popular one on internet forums.
Amos.
I defer to your direct experience LD but I can also tell you that the live commentary made a specific point of the effect of the wind at that end of the ground and in that corner, with close ups of the corner flag, long before the free kick came about.
Amos.
The percentage game they may play, but the three goals we conceded were laughable, and our only moment of danger was the goal we scored. The knuckle draggers chants of "boring, boring" were actually right on the money. I love our passing game as much as an Gooner, but yesterday we passed for passings sake. No intent, no purpose, no invention .... when you pile that on top of three amatuerish mistakes defensively then we're always going to be in trouble.
Rocky7
By the same token, just because other teams are predictable (although I haven't seen 40+ games this season of any of the other teams you mentioned so I won't pretend to know if that is true), and that we are predictable is a popular internet forum opinion, does not mean that we are not. And our away record isn't that much better than United's- we both have four losses but they have three more draws where we have wins.
elbondo
This was one match report I could have done without. :). Was trying to forget the game. But , have to agree with you fully.
Sajit
We can argue til the end of time about the whys and wherefores of why we have repeatedly failed and fallen all to often this season. But yesterday was the starkest reminder of how a team of unremarkable yet dedicated seasoned professionals with a team ethic and will to succeed can conquer and conquer at a canter over a team of talented yet pampered, gauche, weak willed fragile children. We have constantly talked of the future with Arsenal but what is that future? I just can't see this cycle of inconsistent inadequate application being broken any time soon. I can't see how two or three players will shake the rest of these mentally deficient sunshine bus fkwits out of their need for nothing six figure packet slumber. If we are unable to tactically change and become flexible mid season when things patently are'nt working then why the hell do we think things are going to improve over a close season when these big time charlies are sunning themselves in Magaluf with their hairdressing better halves? I swear to Dennis if I have to witness Bendtner out on the ******** wing again Wenger then I will smuggle myself into Colney in a red and white perambulator and spike your ******** garlic bread with arsenic. IT DOES NOT F**KING WORK STOP DOING IT!! Stoke fans singing Boring boring was the most truthful and painful chant directed at us in years, the fact the home truth came from those anti - footballing, mouthbreathing, towel loving inbreds didn't make it any less true. First shot on target after an hour, only put the effort in after 75. A F**king disgrace.
nikolaijns
The writing has been on the wall for a few weeks now Gooners. Perhaps if you management team had done their job properly they would have noticed that Stoke have started to score goals just for fun. It started when we played Chelsea and Walters ran from the half way linetook on the Chelsea defenders and popped on in the back of the net. Then we went to Spurs and were unlucky not to win when we lost 3-2 with again Walters running from half way line and again popping one in the back of the net and Jones cracking one in from outside the box. Then we made history at Wembley by scoring 5 goals in a FA semi final, all of them by the way cracking goals with Penance picking up the ball well into his own half and slotting the ball between the feet of a Bolton player for Jones to score a very good goal, and then again Walters picking up the ball in his own half before taking on the entire Bolton defense to smack it into the net. Then we had the last laugh at the weekend when we cracked three more goals past you team. If your management had done their job properly they would have picked up on the fact that Stoke are the only team in the premiership bar your rivals MAN U who have come into form right at the right moment in the season. Good luck next season though, and I hope we can put all this bitterness behind both clubs.
stokeforever500
I'm sorry but LondonGooner is right, grass length and wind speed, seriously? It's OK to look towards something different rather than the usual issues your squad supposedly suffers from and backing up your argument with all the statistics you like but the issue is statistics will only ever tell you half the story. There's far too many variables involved to even make fair statistical comparisons between yourselves and other teams and the stats presented are relatively simple and bias to your argument (undestandbly - just a shock coming from someone who supposedly looks at things from all different angles). Whilst many Arsenal fans might like to believe there's no run-in flop, lack of physicality and natural leader your results in recent years suggest there is. Look at it this way, when you were a physical side full of vocal leaders who went to the end of the season as strong they started the season you won things, those features have all gone from this Arsenal side and you've won nothing forgive me for thinking there's a link in there somewhere.
TheFamousNo7
So we lost because of the wind? It's a good job our stadium is enclosed otherwise the wind would have affected our excellent home recor......oh dear.
LondonGooner
Must of been the length of the grass Rocky.....lol
LondonGooner
Excellent write up, sums up my feelings about the match and the team at the moment pretty accurately. Yesterday we were without Fabregas and Nasri but even with them in the team we've struggled to create chances against struggling teams of late. I really feel we need some quality wingers who can cross the ball and a striker who is good in the air. Othewise we will be restricted to the same ineffective style of play next season as other teams continue to defend against us in the same way. You can make excuses for every goal the team concedes if you try hard enough. I'll admit occassionally it can simply be bad luck but so many poor results in recent months suggests there is a bigger underlying cause. Long grass and windy conditions I'm sure are a small factor but it's ridiculous to even mention them as an excuse when there are much bigger problems with the team.
bowiecokemirror
Seeing an old man cry is not a pleasant sight, but that performance was enough to make a saint weep. When we played manure and hope on hope we seem to have found the right track but alas but for a fleeting moment. When Fat Sam had Bolton and we used to line up as idots and get hammered,long ball down the middle and all they had to do was try and pop it in the goal; no bloody football just a lop up the field; typical of England sides of the past. AW found a way to overcome that style and I can well remember him saying after we had beaten them at their own style of play. They (meaning all other football teams)know what they are going to get from us. We play games on Rugger pitches the ball will not run smoothly as at the home of the gods. Is it too hard when we have to play at sh it grounds we can't play practice games at the local common such as Blackheath were the wind blows in all bloody directions and the grass is only cut when it can be afforded to be cut? I really think a change by having Pat leave and a Keown as AW's off sider would play dividends. We sent the Arsenal Captain off to Bolton to learn his wares, perhaps AW needs to refocus on not only their playing style but their ground conditions etc. We have pampered players, its like boxers oonly hungry boxers win championships. WE have class in bucket loads but sit em up and knock em down fighters such as Adam and co nil. We can play defensively as we proved against Barca but when we play lesser mortals such as Stoke Newcastle only Jack seems to have any idea. IMHO
alwaysgunner
next Arsenal and England captain.
alwaysgunner
LOL!!!.. and I thought the "Next Season starts Now!".. was from the MU game?? Already next season looks to be in shambles.. LOL!.. These goons does not know how to defend after 6 years of being coached. Just get an experienced top quality defence if we wanna win the league, PERIOD. Wenger just came out with an interesting statistics. we conceded 21 goals from set plays!!. And we only conceded 17 goals from open play, lesser than the rest of the EPL teams. that shows how much 6 years of coaching has thought these players to defend set pieces. its a ******** crap defence we have, and only if MU and chelsea hand it to us next season, we are not gonna win anything from it.
nevidimka
Crap performance, they didn't looked interested. I can't believe i'm saying this but i am actually quite looking forward to this seasons end. SO much potential has come to these lack-lustre performances and i can't help but feel every Arsenal player just wants this season to hurry up and finish aswell. We are a better team then Stoke, but on Sunday they made us look like a championship team. Rosicky should've been on earlier.
FuiKaka
LD - it might be interesting to look at the match reports of the last but 3 games, in the past 2-3 seasons. Im reasonably certain that there was a mention of 'audition of sorts' for some players. Here we are, in the same position, year after year. I'm not sure what these auditions will prove. That a change in formation will result in defending set pieces better?
prits
i absolutely agree with having wide players who can deliver better crosses because bendtner & chamakh are not all that bad. they are not slow in pace & good in the air. just that we never fully utilize their capabilities
Joe_@**
"So we lost because of the wind? It's a good job our stadium is enclosed otherwise the wind would have affected our excellent home recor......oh dear." Disingenuous distortion and exaggeration LG. No-one said we lost because of the wind. The issue concerned the expectation that RvP might have made more contact with the ball that came in instead of deflecting it for the fortuitous bounce off Jones. Reasons may include that he's an incompetent footballer who lacks the pride to head it properly or he is tactically predictable when it comes to heading or Arsenal don't coach him in heading the ball or perhaps he just doesn't have a heading mentality. There again there may have been some other external factor that contributed to his failure. Myopic prejudices will usually determine which you prefer but it doesn't do any harm to be open to other possibilities.
Amos.
I really don't see Wenger making the changes in personnel or philosophy that we want to see. Most of the players most fans want rid off aren't even first teamers. Do we really think he's going to willingly change any of the first team? So whoever he'll bring in will probably be a squad player. For me, it has to be the formation and mentality that needs changing. You can change your mentality - from a team that doesn't appear to place as much emphasis on defending to one that's absolutely determined to win the ball back as soon as possible. If we had half the workrate of the Barca side, we'd do better I'm sure. I saw Theo lose the ball yesterday because of a bad pass or control and then just watch someone else try and in it back. If that was Messi or Iniesta, they'd be fighting to win that ball back. A few good results and this team slips back into their complacency zone thinking they're the best.
Gooner_Vin
For all the talk of "British grit" I can't ever recall two players looking so frightened of a football match than I saw from Gibbs and Walcott on Sunday.
Little Dutch
Truth is Gibbs isn't ready. He seems to have regressed from the talent he looked to be last pre-season.
Naijagunner
Wigan 3 Arsenal 2 end of last season anyone?
MeetTheGunners
I tell you one thing; for very player who's upset over what happened they'll be three more who just couldn't give a toss. Just lay back the jacuzzi and sip the warm champagne, and forget about it. Maybe phone your personal tattoist. Life's been good to them. But it's the fans who have to bear the burden of their lack of professionalism; the ones who fund their lifestyles with their rapidly diminishing liquid assets. Those (and there plenty) who can't respect that should be shown the exit regardless of whether they're 'talented' or not.
Tony Rocky Horror
Amos you continually accuse us here of believing in "myths" and cliches and stereotypes and constantly feel the need-in kneejerk fashion--to challenge anything put forward by the media or fans as credible reasons for this team's failures. You own the truth, everyone else refuses to see it because we're all mushbrained idiots. You pose as the man "above it all" able to see everything objectively and rationally. Everyone else is hysterical or emotional or biased or gives into cliches while you are some sort of superior remote judge of reality. Strikes me that it's you who automatically, mindlessly refuses to even consider any kind of negative analysis on this team that points to consistent weaknesses. LD says it well in his write-up: Stoke did what so many other teams and managers do and carried it out well. They banked on our ponderous, predictable play and it worked. How anyone can argue we don't practice enuf on set pieces is beyond my understanding after the same damned failings on set pieces season after season. Now either the players are failing to do what the manager tells them or there's something wrong with the coaching. It is perfectly RATIONAL and objective to conclude that if you keep making the same mistakes every single season that there's something wrong. It is in fact IRRATIONAL to refuse to see what is before your very eyes. It's your choice to prefer to live in la-la land and deny consistency, reality, predictability. But you have no right to look down on us as weak-minded, inferior thinkers as opposed to your superior self.
jaelle
If you see yourself as weakminded or an inferior thinker jaelle then you've got the problem to deal with not me. I'm not accusing anyone here of believing anything I'm just posting my opinions in very general terms. If you choose to elect yourself as a member of any particular grouping then that's a matter for you. I'm not putting you anywhere. If you don't like the opinion then deal with the opinion. Straw man arguments always appear feeble. I haven't disagreed with LD's summary at all. I've said that Stoke played the percentages well and that they fell in their favour.
Amos.
This has been one of your best write-ups this season LD. Excellent stuff. The players seemed completely despondent and were ready to accept the negative chanting from the Stoke crowd (apart from Wilshere). This team certainly has the ability but lacks a mental edge and didn’t respond to the goading. Bob Wall in his book: “Arsenal From the Heart” alluded to the likes of Leeds Utd at the time (late ‘60s) and their arrogance. They started the season wondering who ere going to finish second to them because they truly believed that they were the best. This Arsenal side can’t be further way from that right now. They don’t think they’re the best and look like they want to run and hide. They seemed to be embarrassed that they have failed and deserved the ridicule from the Stoke fans. The trouble is that we’re in a negative cycle now embarking on the same repetitive seasonal journey of hope and expectation and then failure. God knows how we get out of it. By the way Jaelle, spot on!
Sir Henry
Amos, I appreciate that you're reluctant to resort to cliche, but good teams don't continue to lose crunch games against beatable opponents. That's not down to fortune or fate, it's down to attitude, quality and organisation. When it matters, all three are found wanting with this team.
hughied
Does it makes sense if I say Arsenal's set piece defending is as laughable as Pool's Zonal Marking under rafa? And I wonder if there is a comparision stat on goals allowed from thse 2 laughable defences. Coz it could probably turn out that Pool's lausy Zonal marking defence leaked lesser goals compared to Arsenal's 21 from set piece this season. I just wonder. After 6 years of coaching and the defence is still like this...
nevidimka
It’s down to a lot of things hughied. Dozens of small things all needing to be done a little bit better or coming together to influence events positively at the right time. All of the bandwagon opinions and arguments will play a role to one degree or another as will other less popular ones, some more significantly than others. Many like to simplify it and try to find a single simple explanation, preferably one that can just be asserted, and discount anything that might make their favoured bandwagon a little less attractive to climb on. It’s rarely ever that simple which is why it shouldn’t be wrong to challenge received wisdom if you think you see any flaws in it any more than it should be wrong to challenge less conventional opinions. I don’t see the need for anyone to be so precious about their opinions as to get upset with the person making it rather than just deal with the counter opinion itself. If you’re confident enough in your view the strength of your argument should mean you’d never need to do that.
Amos.
Bandwagon opinions? Amos, I think you'll probably find yourself in the minority in any group of gooners discussing where its all gone pete tong this season. You're happy with statistics and dodgy pitches, and good for you. Some of us happen to believe there are other problems with the team which haven't been addressed for at least the last 3 seasons. We're not blind, and we don't all read The Sun. Yes, some of us actually watch whole matches and come away with a view of our own.
Wyn Mills
I'd imagine most here would watch whole matches so I doubt that is unique just to 'some of us'. Where have I ever said that dodgy pitches were where it's all gone wrong for us this season? That's just the sort of exaggerated argument which proves my point. Statistics of any kind are not an argument for or against anything, or an opinion, they're just information. Of course there are problems with the team and some of the opinions proffered here are pretty sound but there is nothing wrong with anyone disagreeing with those they find exaggerated or discussing any flaws they might see. If the argument is strong enough it'll withstand a challenge but dismissing a point simply because 'statistics' are used to illustrate it isn't likely to reinforce a view. No one need be concerned about being in a minority in any discussion. It's often a good idea to look in a different direction to everyone else especially if they're all looking in one direction. There'll always be plenty of others to tell you what they see but you'll maybe have seen something they haven't so it's never a bad idea to at least consider other perspectives.
Amos.
Well said Jaelle, couldn't of summed it up better. Still laughing at the wind and grass length as being explored as reason for our f*****g up from yet another opposition set piece. Didn't hear that pathetic attempt at excuse making with the other 20 goals we conceded from set plays. To even contemplate that as a reason is in insult to readers intelligence. Absolute classic, can you say "grasping at straws"? We all laugh at Wenger when he blames the pitch as it is embarrassing, to even consider the wind and grass length as a reason is ball bustingly funny.
LondonGooner
Amos: General terms? lol Back to the fence post again for you.
LondonGooner
Head still firmly up your arse for you I see LG. The state of the pitch only related to shifting the percentages towards the style of football played by Stoke. It's fair enough as we prepare the Emirates pitch to favour our style but there's no harm in the observation any more than there is in considering whether the wind played a part in RvP missing his header. I suppose if you don't have the capacity or inclination to understand such simple observations then they might send you into a fit of girly giggles but as long as you're happy where's the harm eh? Ignorance can indeed be bliss for some. :)
Amos.
Now now LG, let's have it right - i'm sure Stoke had lenghty and reasoned debates about the grass at The Emirates being in fact too short. But then we scored from a set piece against them if memory serves, does that mean we're better at set pieces than them? Oh i'm all at a loss here. Amos you're more of a contrarian than anything else, even if something's screaming you in the face you refuse to see it, sometimes it is that easy. Almunia being top 4 keeper in the league, Denilson being good enough, Rosicky being creative... Arshavin not doing anything worthy of our team, etc etc.
shewore
As Eric Cartman would say "Frowny fuurrccce"
shewore
More grasping at strawmen going on here than grasping at straws shewore. As in if you go back to the Almunia thread on the forums you'll see that I said Almunia was a top 6 keeper but not higher than 5th which at the time the claim was made he clearly was. To distort the original proposition just to disagree with the contrived one is a classic fallacious strawman argument. Whether Denilson is good enough, Rosicky creative or Arshavin is - well just Arshavin is a matter of opinion. There's little need for anyone to be exercised greatly if someone chooses to express such opinions except that many feel that insistence or assertion alone should be enough and that any data provided that might challenge opinions is unacceptable. I would guess preparation of the pitch would almost certainly have been part of Stokes pre-home match preparations. It's certainly part of ours. Whether we gave enough thought to Stokes pitch preparations before the game might be questionable but I'm pretty sure, given the trouble some were obviously having, that it formed part of our post-match debrief. At least it should have done if we're to be better prepared next time. If you're looking to get your head around why the same midfield can outplay ManU and then a week later lost to Stoke then perhaps such factors are worth giving some thought. Then again if some prefer to ride on whatever bandwagon opinion is most appealing then I'm happy to wave as they go by in the expectation that they'll come back again riding on another bandwagon.
Amos.
A lot of the time that insistence turns into reality though, unfortunately you just have to bid your time, if you were right about Manwell, he'd be no1 now, likewise if Denilson gave as much as some people insisted he'd be in the side. I'm not exercising opinions it's more of a tongue in cheek observation, i'm hardly brilliant at it, I was convinced Franny Jeffers would be a top goalscorer for example, what I can't work is Wenger got shot of him sharpish for e.g. - why not others? Is it his approach changing or just simply him seeing something no other berk in that stadium can see - apart from the odd exception who look in the opposite direction ;)
shewore
As I read a number of blogs etc I think to myself that I support the worst team in the league then Martin Tyler comes up with a gem and I quote "if all shots that hit the woodwork had been counted as goals then Arsenal would, indeed, be top of the league. They have hit the woodwork 21 times and if those shots had gone in then they would have an additional 21 goals - which would have equated to an additional 19 points - and would be 10 points clear of Manchester United at the top." It really is a game of inches.
Gunner_Downunder
Why would Almunia be No.1 now because I was right about him earlier? Any player is only first pick until someone better comes along. Arshavin doesn't always get picked but that doesn't make him useless. You would expect Wenger to see things that people in the stadium can't see precisely because he does. No that it prevents some from asserting that he can't. Nothing wrong with being a contrarian. The best time to buy something (assuming it's something you want to buy) is when everyone else is selling and conversely the best time to sell is when everyone else is buying. As Warren Buffett (who unlike Eric Cartman is a real person) might say.
Amos.
I would prefer it if you didn't speak to me about Warren Buffet. And I would also prefer it if you acknowledged Eric Cartman's existence.
shewore
The good thing about insistence is that sometimes you can be proved right. Those predicting the end of the world is nigh rely on it but they don't like getting drawn into any detail either. :)
Amos.
Amos, there's nothing wrong with you having your stats to keep you cosy at night. Its your inference that the rest of us are just sheep blindly following the doomsayers that is beginning to grate. Earlier in this thread you referred to the pitch as being a possible factor in our loss. That was right after the bit about a breeze playing a factor as well. Seriously, if you think its just the small details and bad luck which are derailling our season year after year then you surely must believe Wenger will finally get it right next season, by the sheer law of averages. I don't suppose there have been any major tactical gaffs we can apportion any stats to? Maybe its just me, but the comedy defending we've been treated to this season seems worthy of a stat or two. How about fastest turnaround in fortunes after being 4-0 up halfway through a game?
Wyn Mills
You need to read those posts referring to the pitch and the wind a little more carefully Wyn. I didn't say that they were reasons for us losing. I did say that the wind conditions, which TV showed quite clearly, MIGHT have been a factor in RvP missing his header. I also said that the pitch may have been a factor in the differing performances between the midfield at the Emirates and at Stoke. Not really too contentious nor difficult to get your head around in my view. It's also not too difficult to see that the principle component of Stoke's success rather than any particular merit in their play were two fortuitous deflections that might not have found their way into the back of the net were it not for the deflections. Acknowledging that doesn't prevent anyone ruing the errors that we made leading to the circumstances in which the opportunity to score from deflections came about whether that be Arshavin conceding a free kick in a dangerous area or RvP missing a defensive header or Ramsey playing a pass blind. There are plenty of stats relating to our defensive performances. I put forward some in the previous article. Similarly there are plenty of small details in the turnaround in the Newcastle game many discussed at the time but you'd probably prefer to believe that it was all down to a lack of winning mentality so not wishing to upset you further maybe it's best to leave you comfortable with that thought.
Amos.
In Malawi we say "Arsenal imathe" meaning finish
Wantwa
 

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