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Sunderland 2 Arsenal 0

With a journey to Sunderland for the second time in seven days, sandwiched between a midweek trip to Milan, so completed what I had worked out to be 3,280 miles of travelling in 7 days to watch Arsenal. Whilst the train took us to Wearside last week and of course the plane flew us to Milan, it was automobile time for the journey to the North East for a 5th Round cup tie. Terry collected me from Streatham Hill at shortly after 9.30am, my clutch of Red Stripe in tow for the long drive up the M1.

Having picked up Young Tim from Archway and cracked open the tinnies (the driver excluded, obviously) there was only one thing left for it. To play the Happy Days theme tune at full volume as we joined the motorway. Conversation began to take a turn for the surreal when we proposed that Football Factory might be transformed into an engaging West End musical, so it was probably just as well the drive was smooth and swift, arriving in Sunderland at shortly before 3.15pm and back to the Grange pub for a few pre match liveners.

Arsene went for a strong line up, with the desperately off form Walcott deservedly dropped for his idle midweek showing. Francis Coquelin came in for the understandably rusty Kieran Gibbs, whilst Gervinho returned. The start was promising; with the visitors looking as though they meant business. After just three minutes, van Persie won a free kick on the edge of the area. Mikel Arteta whipped his effort just past the post with Mignolet sprawling. But plans started to go awry as Francis Coquelin hit the turf with a pulled hamstring. His second hamstring injury in a month. A reshuffle was necessary, with Squillaci moving to centre half and Vermaelen moving to left back.

Understandably, the change was disruptive. On a bumpy surface and in tempestuous conditions, Squillaci looked rusty and misjudged many an aerial duel. Djourou too found the conditions difficult and Sunderland sensed that to their advantage. Sessegnon curled one just after having nicked past Squillaci and Fabianski was down smartly to hold McLean`s cross with Sessegnon lurking. The Gunners were struggling to impose themselves but ought to have taken the lead just after the half hour mark. Van Persie played a clever reverse ball to find the run of Gervinho. The Ivorian took a touch in the right channel before firing a goalward shot which Mignolet plucked out to safety.

Five minutes before half time, defensive uncertainty would be Arsenal`s undoing. Djourou misjudged a through ball and was forced to haul Gardner down on the edge of the Sunderland area. Larsson`s free kick was flicked half clear by Vermaelen, but his interception only found Kieran Richardson, whose keen left footed drive ricocheted in off the unfortunate Squillaci and into the bottom corner. Arsenal were rattled and Colback headed Larsson`s back post cross into the path of McLean, but he could only prod into the side netting. Half time was welcome relief given the head of steam Sunderland had built. Aaron Ramsey gingerly jogged through the half time break with a troublesome ankle. Neither he nor Squillaci would last more than 6 minutes of the half, both hobbling off.

Bitter as it sounds, it`s impossible to ignore the fact that Sunderland`s pitch claimed four Arsenal victims in seven days. Rosicky came on for Ramsey and Squillaci was replaced by Walcott, who assumed the central striker role he`s been wibbling on about playing since time immemorial. Predictably he played it totally ineffectively. Understandable to the extent that Sunderland were playing deep, rendering Theo ineffective. Yet it was also a damning indictment of a one dimensional player. His negotiating hand in contract talks weakens by the week. It was a baffling swap. Walcott was never going to be able to get the space he needs to cause any damage. Arshavin or Benayoun would surely have been much better bets.

The second half rather petered out into a faceless sludge. Arsenal enjoyed 71% possession. I struggle to think of a meaningful opening in the second half. Sunderland sat deep, soaked up pressure. Arsenal knocked the ball around and prayed that van Persie would produce a piece of individual brilliance. You know the script by now, right? The Gunners toiled and attacked. Nobody can doubt their effort. But they posed about as much threat as a water pistol. As Arsenal pushed, Sunderland capitalised on the counter. 29% possession for the home side. Two goals. One goal for every 14.5%. Chamberlain conceded possession in his own half. Sessegnon powered on. Arteta tried and failed to bring him down. Sessegnon knocked the ball right to Larsson. His shot hit the post then cannoned into the net via Chamberlain, who was at least sprinting back to atone for his error. Not one Arsenal player consoled him.

Arsenal tried to muster a vague response but it was all so predictable and they tumbled meekly out of the Cup. The last chance for glory- in the sense of the word that I understand it- for another season. I say that, because of course we will be told that the race for 4th place is the be all and end all for the season. I`m not so convinced. I think this piece by Tim Clark at Arse2Mousesums it up nicely. It`s hard to get excited about finishing 4th. We`re told it will yield increasing revenues. But we don`t use the funds it generates. We`re told we need it to attract players. Yet me conduct a transfer policy befitting of mediocrity. We`re told we need it to keep our best players. But every summer a few more first team players peel away, one by one confirming that they have lost faith in the Arsenal project.

The more I think of it, the more I think the Europa League is the way to go. There`ll be no mass exodus if we don`t qualify for the Champions League because most of the players won`t be that coveted. The captain will go, but he will probably go anyway and I won`t blame him one bit. His shoulders must ache from carrying this lot. One look at a reinvigorated Fabregas- playing carefree football and scoring goals for fun in a team surrounded by class will have van Persie curious I am sure. I believe Andy Dusfrane in Shawshank Redemption said it best. Some birds shouldn`t be caged, their feathers are just too bright.

A run in the Europa League might help the club reassert its purpose. We might stand a chance of winning it. The game is about glory. Right now, we`re making up the numbers. Don`t get me wrong, we`re making up some well heeled numbers, with fine furnishings and all mod cons. But it`s hard not to feel bored with this groundhog day scenario. As supporters, we`re materially wealthy with the club we support. But I feel increasingly emotionally malnourished. Told to love the plush soft furnishings and 40 inch TV screen, when really I yearn to scrape my knees in the garden with my friends. Maybe we`re all spoiled, but supporting Arsenal doesn`t feel like a lot of fun at the moment. I don`t know what the answer to that is. I don`t honestly know if changing the board, the manager, the CEO or the cleaning lady will solve that. All I know is that something has to change. Because every season is becoming increasingly circular and predictable. LD.

21.FABIANSKI, 3.SAGNA, 20.DJOUROU, 5.VERMAELEN, 39.COQUELIN (18.Squillaci '7, 14.Walcott `51), 17.SONG, 8.ARTETA, 16.RAMSEY (7.Rosicky `51), 15.CHAMBERLAIN, 27.GERVINHO, 10.v.PERSIE (c). Unused: 13.Szczesny, 23.Arshavin, 29.Chamakh, 30.Benayoun.

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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday February 19 2012

Time: 6:37PM

Your Comments

What no Arsenal fans ?
so bad.
There's a german saying: (don't know why it's German but it is) Lieber ein Ende mit Schrecken, als ein Schrecken ohne Ende. What it means: Better an end with horror than endless horrors. I don't know how to solve our problems but I do know that maintaining the status quo is no longer a credible option. The fans been sign posted our current situation to the club well in advance.
Professor Calculus
When wos the last time u see a arsenal wing back run past the winger its fine havin all the ball but no point whens its going backwards i love Arsenal but every season getting very predictable i not callin for Wengers head but he needs giv us fans a lift only 3 players came over and clapped the fans in Milan RVP Henry and the ox the rest just hid away just lik they did on the pitch we need LEADERS 1 or 2 isnt enough but it still the club we love no result is ever going change that AFC for life
Van Persie
Ow, Fish off. They are just too upset to post. This is an ARSENAL board and no ARSENAL FAN would be ashamed of posting in it. Dont need you morons to come hear and ask stupid questions as if this is a general board. We congratulate, investigate and even critisize our own performances in our board, and we dont need others to come here and tell us what to do or not to do. OK, on the game, it was a very poor performance, and it was a TIMELY kick in the back for us to Really look into spending and rebuilding our Arsenal in the Summer. And i'd still look at Wenger as the man to lead the way. Remember, form is temporary CLASS is permanent. Gooner For life!
I am convinced there are obstacles behind the scenes that we're not being told about. This was a scenario that we could easily have prevented with some intelligent investment, and there is no way that Arsene is stupid enough to have failed to see that. It seems to me that either we don't have the funds we claim to, or that Arsene, for whatever reason, is having to deal with unreasonable demands by those running the club. Given our wage structure there is no way we can build a sustainable, succesful side via the transfer market. Perhaps the hope was that we could avoid this issue by raising a successful side from the youth ranks whose financial demands would be lower due to the club's family values that Arsene always refers to. If the wage restriction is financially necessary for the future of the club then I applaud the bravery of the project, which I believe failed by only a slim margin - snatching a trophy early on since the stadium move would have been a crucial step in cultivating both a winning mentality and a mental bond to the club. However, I haven't written off the possibility that Arsene's hand is being restricted to boost the incomes of the owners.
And in response to the above question about our 'wingbacks' not making overlapping runs recently I have to admit that at the time I didn't fully appreciate just how crucial the day we needlessly lost Santos would prove to be. People criticised him for being unreliable, but if you look at the flipside of that characteristic, which in itself is, in my opinion, slightly misguided, he provided with a level of unpredictability that our side has so blatently lacked over the last few months. a
Agree Rob Santos attacking in a game like today wud hav been a great plus
Van Persie
AR, It will appear that Arsene is very much his own man and did internalize the whole concept of our youth projects. If he didn't like it, he will be gone at the first sign of discomfort. Such is the intelligence the man possesses that I refrain from assuming there is an "invisible hand" unreasonable demands 'by those running the club'. Wenger would have been credited with the concept and congratulated had we manged to win trophies along the way, so he has to take the flak when it isn't working out (no thanks to money bags from Russia and Abu dhabi).

Few can forget Santos and how he brought some incisiveness to our left side. But for his injury, I would wager that he would have grown into a key part of our offensive play and still retain some measure of solidity in his defending. We need to have some luck with injuries to key players and for extended periods to be able to challenge properly for silverware.
Willing to lay a sizable bet 'Happy Days' didn't receive a further airing on the return journey.
Probably something mopey by the Smiths, 'Heaven knows I'm miserable now'?
Good read, LD and very honest about our situation. One has to ask the question though, how bad a pitch needs to get to be disqualified from use for a game at this level. The fact we have lost players owing to the condition of the surface speaks volumes; it is not an excuse, agreed, but it clearly affected the play and it isn't impossible that the players will watch how they thread and make tackles for fear of injury.

On the game itself, I think Sunderland had their tactics spot on as they didn't give us space at all, pressing even high up the field, which was how their first goal came; Vermaelen need not have passed back to a normally shaky Djourou but a more composed player would have cleared that ball to safety; not JD, who had to kick it against the on-rushing player and then grabbed him when he went past him, resulting in the foul. Theo was anonymous and I agree Arshavin would have posed a better threat; even Benayoun will add something but Wenger was desperate for some 'spark' and gambled with Walcott again. I have said it before. Walcott needs time on the bench, as do a few of our players. some need to know they don't have a permanent shirt and we'll see if we don't get improved performances with the semblance of competition.
Lol, Niko.
It's a bet you'd have lost Niko, it was the first thing we put in. Purely for the ironic comedy value! :)
Little Dutch
I thought this match was a familiar tale of Wenger being outmanoeuvred by an opponent who had done his homework. Both Milan and Sunderland knew exactly how to stop us. The fact that we possessed neither the intelligence nor flexibility to counter what were effectively counter-attacking strategies speaks volumes about the way this team is being coached. The tendency (and its one we must strongly resist) is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. To those calling for the manager's head please ask yourself this: What other manager IN THE WORLD could have achieved so much in 10 years having spent so little? It’s a fact that Utd, Chelsea, City, Sp*rs, Sunderland, Aston Villa, Liverpool...even Stoke, have spent massively more than us (in notable cases more than 8 or 9 times as much) in trying to achieve what Wenger has achieved, or has come close to achieving. On top of this he has led us into a world class stadium and upgraded our training facilities. We are actually in the Wolves, Fulham, WBA and Everton bracket when it comes to annual net spend on transfers in the past decade. You can either see that as an indictment of Wenger's penny pinching or evidence of the sheer logistical miracle this man has pulled off. I lean towards the later, but am not blind to his weaknesses. Wenger is an infuriatingly stubborn man. We all know that. But he's also a fiercely loyal one too, and perhaps its time he took a good long look at his coaching staff as well as some of the players. Pat Rice may be bowing out, but who will be replacing him? Is Boro Primorac still producing the goods? Who is our defensive coach? (There’s no-one listed among the coaching staff). Why do we look so one-dimensional these days? I think there are a lot more questions to answer before we should even think of giving our manager the boot. Wenger is just the elegant tip of a very large iceberg. We eject him at our peril.
Wyn Mills
In fairness, there isn't a single team in the Football League with a listed defensive coach. It's a bit of a misnomer that, no football teams use them.
Little Dutch
you sick fux lol! It's amazing I still have my house as I'm quite possibly the crappest gambler of all time. Well me and Nick Leeson.
Streatham Hill LD? Its a wonder I didn't bump into you on my way to the shops.
Wyn Mills
It's true, apart from keepers who have their own coach, coaches have no specific area, they will coach the entire 1st team. Given the Arsenal defence is up for an Oscar this year for best comedy performance I'd say it's one more area in which Arsenal could be a groundbreaking club though by appointing a coach specifically to whip these Chaplins into shape. I'm going to say the word coach a couple more times now as coach is is a lovely word, in fact I guess you could say I'm on a bit of a coach trip.
I mean surely If Mega Martin Keown can coach a rag tag defence with 7/8 starters out to a CL final breaking defensive records for the competition and given the chaos that reigns week in week out at Arsenal amongst an ever changing back four then suuuuurely I mean suuuuuuuurely we can identify this need as an area we desperately need to do extra homework on.
OK, a defensive coach may not be listed, but surely someone must be charged with creating defensive solidity? I would expect that in most team sports. Or as Niko suggests why don't we break the mould?
Wyn Mills
Watching this and our last few games I also realised that, aside from his creativity, the other thing about Cesc we miss is his sheer will to win. How many times did that get us out of trouble? Remember the home game against Liverpool last year when he won a penalty in the last few minutes only for Eboue to screw up. I guess I'm not reporting anything new here but the first team, let alone the squad, is bereft of top quality. First we were crying out for experience/leadership; now I'd settle for just plain old quality!
...that would be Wenger, Wyn Mills. He was a CB in his days, you know :-)
In years gone by I would have been incredibly angry at the state of affairs, but I just feel really sad. It's horrible to see things going this way. Credit to our away support though, they keep racking up the miles for little to no reward.
My mate has that shank quote tattoed on his arm. Needless to say he's an Army lad and abit of a clown.
Some birds shouldn`t be caged, their feathers are just too bright - Perfect for target practice, atteeeenshuuun!
@ vin, of course it's true, when fit Cesc carried us time after time. It's patent we were always going to suffer a horror show season if we failed to adequately spend the 57 odd million we got from his and the sale of the two to citeh on two playmakers. I know people say we spent that 50 mill on 5 new players but they were already areas of the squad that needed strengthening BEFORE we lost Cesc Nasti and Gael, ie CB (The Sack) winger (Ox) striker (park - allegedly) and LB (Santos - can't trust Gibbs' fitness) So basically only Arteta was signed to replace the huge Cesc shaped hole, Arteta has done well but I think he needs to play further up as I think he is more likely with his experience to see the spaces and moves and potential plays than Rambo.
Wenger a CB you say! I wager he never liked taking orders from anyone!
Wyn Mills
Morgan Freeman said that line, not Andy Dusfrene. someoneontheinternetiswrong.jpg
Where are all those bods not telling us how close we came to actually winning things over the last few years? and that these are the "good times"? Remember losing to utd in the cl couple years ago, getting destroyed by all but goals "yeah but we should've won" etc etc etc. This was always gonna effin happen.
A run in the Europe League might be all this club can achieve, at least in the short term. Fans have already adjusted their expectations from the club. For me at least, I didn't expect to win any trophy this year. Your last comment is particularly true, LD. There is something very familiar about the end of season collapse.
Niko, Our defence has bagged the BAFTA for best Comedy Performance for 3 years running. Shouldn't this, along with the rumoured grumbling of senior players requesting a specialist defensive coach, be telling our manager something? Not simply sorting out our back line, but instilling the sort of pressing and harrying all over the pitch that is common in most of the more successful teams?
Wyn Mills
I can say those things if it'll help, Shewore...
niko - not sure whether even Arteta has the ability to be a playmaker in the way we need, but understand your point. I think Wenger banks on us being a good enough side when all our key players are fit. As we know, that hardly happens. The thing that effin' grates the most is that it's hardly rocket science to know that at the very least we had to replace the quality we lost with the equal level otherwise we'd be running the risk.
"at the very least we had to replace the quality we lost with the equal level" - How? Clone Cesc and Samir and implant them with the memories of the last X years of training/settling within the club? Where are these other Fabregases kicking around waiting for us to sign them, while not attracting City's attention?
Damiano - by changing our wage structure and perhaps speculating to accumulate? I'd say that Mata is even better than Nasri and we got 24m for the latter. There's one for you. Don't be so blinded by what the Club spews out. There are players out there if you are bold and astute enough.
Crack on then Damiano, give your honest assessment of things, from a fan's perspective?
GV, that might make a difference, yes. Or it might not. Any others, or just Mata? As I understand it, we would've signed Mata but for his wage demands. If you were manager of Arsenal, would you have offered this Spanish lad more money than Arsenal captain RvP in order to entice him to the club (at the risk of unsettling him, and everyone else)? Does he deserve more money than anyone in the history of our club? Would he be worth that money, if you saw Song, Ramsey and Wilshire as the long-term future of our club? Would you then grant 6-7 other players that same wage at the end of the year because they all want parity, only to cost the club an extra 10? 20? million a year, season ticket prices go up, debt repayments go down? Or do you say 'we've a squad of 22 excellent players - the problem is 10 of them are injured. We'll get through it.' I'm not blinded by anything, not interested in paper talk and gossip; the evidence of my own eyes is that Arsenal have a strong squad going through a tough spell. And spending money doesn't guarantee results. Oh, and in spite of everything were still the fourth best side in the league, according to results.
Unsettling Van persie last summer? Er, howabout offer him parity if we were to sign Mata? Being **** this seasond is likely to unsettle him as well no? "as i understand it" - we didn't get in fast enough, dangled our bait too long in the water and Chelsea came in with the fishing net.
Damiano - a strong enough squad for what? If you truly believe that then, with all due respect, you are deluded. Yes, IF our key players (RvP, TV5, Wilshere, Szcx, Sagna) stay fit through the whole season, then we could be competitive. However, how likely is that? And when you play these players constantly and run them to the ground (a) they get tired and (b) they're more likely to get injured. Yes, I would have broken our structure to sign someone like Mata because you know what? The goal posts have changed and we need to change to stay competitive otherwise as the Arse2Mouse post from yesterday said so eloquently; what the hell do we exist for as a Club? Heaven forbid we lose RvP even for a few games - I'd like to see your take on the strength of our squad then.
Shewore, if we were dangling our bait and the lad didn't want it, that's fair enough isn't it? Better that than keep throwing worms his way. If you're saying a successful Arsenal season hangs on signing Mata or not, I have to disagree. So might Chelsea, who have him in their squad but are behind Arsenal in the league, aren't they?

GV - "you are deluded. Yes, IF our key players then we could be competitive" - so... not that deluded then, seeing as you agree with me? Or are we both deluded, GV? Keeping them fit isn't looking very likely right now, as it seems that most games force two or three Arsenal players off with injuries. It's an awful run of injuries that I've never seen the like of. Does anyone have any stats on the frequency of injuries? Is this the worst we've ever had? Have other clubs ever had it worse? "we need to change to stay competitive" - but you JUST said, if we had our players fit we could be competitive. So... you want to sign two playing squads and risk bankrupting the club?

"what the hell do we exist for as a Club?" - well, if football clubs only existed to win things (or, being generous, 'win things at least once every five years'), then most football clubs would've folded by now; how many clubs have won significant honours in the last five years? Maybe 10 clubs in the country? Should the fans of all other clubs give up and go home? Football is more than winning tournaments. It's football. We all know how much more there is to it than winning a tournament and bragging to our neighbours.

Losing RvP would be a massive blow, and I'd hate to see it because we've never had a weaker front line, for my money; after RvP, we've got a poor Morroccan (surely had enough chances?), a seemingly poor Korean (albeit early days), Bendy out on loan (and I don't think anyone wants him back!), and that's it, isn't it? p1$$ poor. But many of us thought the same when Thierry left (the first time), and that we wouldn't ever replace Vieira with a tiny Spaniard. I'm not convinced RvP wants to go anywhere though, much as the media keep bringing it up, there isn't a story there.
damiano - so there you have. It depends on your definition of (a) what is being competitive and (b) what the club exists for. Did you read the Arse2Mouse article from yesterday? It's essential reading. When I said 'competitive' I meant we could challenge for the top 4 with those players fit; not win the title or CL. I certainly don't have an entitlement mentality but after 6-7 years of trying to win trophies one way, I think it's safe to say our strategy hasn't worked and we need to try something different. Doing the same things again and again expeciting different results is not sane. As for injuries, Wenger said the same thing last season as he's just said now and which you said above, i.e. with our key players we are strong enough. But that is the point. Every club has injuries and suspensions so its squad strength allied with coaching/adapting style of game that gets you through it. Man Utd have had a terrible injuries and have been playing without their first choice centre backs for most of the season. Look where they are. What I am saying is that the Arsenal fans have shown patience and understanding and its only the last couple of years some have become restless and increasingly baffled and bemused by our Club's strategy. Another way of reading Gazidis espousing our self-sustainability model being able to last indefinitely is that the fans will continue to subsidise the club no matter what happens on the pitch. I find that bordering on arrogant and depicts a club that is out of touch with its fans.
Sorry, went off on a bit of a tangent there!
Good post vin, the club is painfully out of touch, it's almost embarrassing. Damiano dangling bait is hardly the most assured way of conducting transfers is it? Look, whatever way you look at it our transfer policy is out of sync with what a top club should be doing, whatever that is, unless you want to tell me the way we conducted our transfers in the summer was optimal?
Shewore, dangling bait was someone else's term for it; we used it to mean 'making a substantial contract offer', which I think is absolutely the way to entice people to sign for the club, yes. The fact is that other clubs feel they can afford to offer even more substantial contracts, and Mata jumped at one of these. I won't tell you our summer was optimal, because I don't know enough about it - I wasn't involved in every discussion about every transfer, and so am not qualified to evaluate it, any more than you were/are. I will say though, that I am delighted with our transfer policy. I can explain that if you like, but I fear you're much more likely to simply brand me delusional and ignore any point I make.

GV - No, not read it - have you got a link to it please? "Doing the same things again and again expeciting different results is not sane." - I see the logic in that, definitely, and sense your frustration. I'm frustrated by it too; mostly because I feel that we are doing things the right way - might be the only club that are! - and results aren't coming. Injuries and suspensions happen, absolutely - someitmes they hit one club harder than others. I used to (almost) pity Spurs in their Darren Anderton days, when they always had their best players out injured - at the moment, that's happening to us. We can't go a game without losing someone. The scale of the problem for us over the last two/three years has been bigger than normal - again, if anyone has the stats to back that up (or disprove it) that'd be great. United may be without their 2 best CBs (if you still count Rio as one of those), but behind that they have hteir next two centre backs. What do the Arse have? Two of the first choice CBs injured AND four fullbacks out injured, forcing CBs out to cover. Or kids to play. I don't think Arsenal fans have shown patience and understanding; I think they've been expectant and whined like spoiled children, largely. Not to pick on anyone in particular, just a generalisation. I don't see why anyone would be bemused by the club's strategy - buy a new stadium, pay it off, keep costs down, don't pay a footballer 200k/week, get through the toughest worldwide recession since the great Depression in the thirties, watch FFPlay kick-in (although UEFA may have screwed us on that one!), all the time playing attractive football and finishing as one of the best teams in our league and statistically most successful in all of Europe. You wouldn't find a Leeds fan complaining in our position.
totally agree with gv. the table does not lie & given the record of the past 7 years, what is happening now is not an outlier. which club does not have injury problem? for the last few seasons we even played man utd a few times without the pairing of ferdinand & vidic including the 8-2 trashing and i could not remember us winning once. yet man utd were still winning pots, no complain. i had suggested before, our tactic could be the underlying problem to our injuries. we play short passing (and lots of them sideway) and that requires a lot of running around by players to cover a short distance. looking at our % of possession which is about 60% every game, it is safe to conclude that our players cover more ground in every game than most of the other teams throughout the season. thus, most of our injuries were due to muscular strain i.e. tendon, ligament, hamstring etc. it is also no coincidence that our fullback are injury prone given that they have to support the attack and dashing back madly when we are being counter-attacked
First of all Gazidis or anyone at the club has yet to clearly define what the self sustained model is actually sustaining and if it's sustaining anything of any worth in the first place. It seems to me that the message from the club is one of self congratulations because we are not utterly shafted financially, and because this financial box is checked then all is well. No matter what the concern, the club mindlessly refers us to The Self Sustained Model. "The Self Sustained Model is in place, nothing to see here, it is of no concern to you. The Self Sustain Model 2.0 with installed firewall utilities and future proofing has all problems covered. We're all set for years."
Professor Calculus
PC, the self sustaining model surely sustains the football club, keeps it in existence, keeps it alive... that's a good thing, no? Different to, say, the Portsmouth model, or the Rangers model. Rangers have won lots of trophies though, maybe we should adopt their financial model?
I think that's the issue that the Prof has struck up upon there. I do honestly believe that we are a well run business but we appear to have lost sight of the reasons to be a well run business. We built the stadium so we could outgrow the financial constraints of Highbury and compete with those above us fiscally. Now, nobody's saying we should be able to compete with Chelsea and Citeh on fees, but we appear to be deliberately handicapping ourselves by not using the resources we do have. So what was the point if we're still locked into the transfer policy we had at Highbury? What's the point in generating x amounts of million a year extra if it just sits in a vault? What is actually the point of finishing in the top 4? Extra revenue? Why? We don't use it. Attract top players? We don't sign top players. Retain our star players? All of our star players leave anyway.
Little Dutch
sustain means you grow as you reap. not keep growing with no harvest. heard we are heading towards 50 mil profit for this financial year
"delighted with our transfer policy" - are you even sure what that is any more? We used to buy kids, fine, now it appears we're buying experience? Do we have a set approach? Clearly you weren't privy to every discussion that happens when dealing negotations damiano and quite frankly it's a boring and almost childish riposte to any criticism levelled at the club as it's obviously impossible, unless you're Arsene. But I think even the most blinkered follower can see that forcing signings through at the umpteenth hour once the season's started and we've already taken a pasting is a healthy approach, being delighted with it is bordering on crazy.
@damiano_tommassi, basically LD 's summed it all up, I support our model and I despise the Sugar Daddy alternative which has basically turned a once competitive sport into a numbers game. But what exactly was the point of leaving Highbury and embarking on a self sustained business model? To sustain a failed football policy. I'm a graphic artist, an art teacher once said to me "You get it but you don't get." I understood everything about drawing, the core principles and so on but until I could show that on the paper, until I created great work... I didn't get it. Knowing how something works doesn't count. showing it does. Anyone can visualise great movies, I'm sure even Michael Bay has great movies in his head, until he makes a good one he doesn't know s**t. Arsenal talk a good talk and they understand everything about the football world, but they just don't get it. How do I know this? I can see it on the pitch. Any club can say and think the right things, have strong principles and a good infrastructure in place but until that translates to the pitch it just doesn't count. Our current self sustained model doesn't get it. Not a bit.
Professor Calculus
LD - I think the idea is that we have to suffer financially for a couple more years to pay the stadium off, and from then on we would actually have the improved budgets. Anyone know how long left on the repayments?

Shewore - Ah, I was close - you went with 'bordering on crazy' rather than 'delusional'. I think I know what the approach is, yeah. it is to buy exceptional young talent, and keep signing average super-young talent to play in the reserves, and harvest that crop every year or two. At the same time, the first team does need more experienced players in it, and Arsene Wenger has ALWAYS bought these players. Every year. Captains of Russia, Czech Republic, Croatia's top-scorer, European cup winner Henry, Ajax captain Vermaelen, German stalwart Mertesacker, 29(?) year old, experienced-at-the-top-level Arteta, van Bronkhorst, Silvinho, Grimandi, Lehmann, and others that my memory's got no chance at. he has consistently bought order players, sometimes at big fees, but the media's favourite lazty quote for the last two years is 'he won't spend, he's stubborn, it's ridiculous'. Well, they also screamed at him to buy Arshavin - which many may consider a mistake. They screamed when he spent '11 mil on another teenager', but I for one am glad he signed Alex Oxtail-Soup.

On Arteta and Mertesacker - how last-minute were those signings, exactly, and why? Do we know or just guess? I understand merts had been scouted for 2 years and approached the year before, so that's hardly panic buying, is it. Arteta's been playing - and playing well - in this league for about 8 years, meaning we could hardly know any more about his game, and as an older player he fits perfectly with the need to make way for Jack and Aaron in time.
PC - do Liverpool get it more than us, then? Behind us and making a massive loss?

What football policy has failed? If it's 'stay alive, somewhere near the top, while we pay off the stadium' then surely the policy has succeeded. Again, we've been one of the best four clubs in the country for over a decade. Every year. only three teams can better that record, and risked pouring billions of pounds into their clubs to do it.
When we had one of the best players in the world, who will only get better (Cesc). It might have been a good idea to surround him with top quality players who complimented his good work instead of undoing it. The players which Cesc had to carry, the very same players with which our transfer policy persisted with for years and the very same players we were told by our manager to believe in, are now out on loan or sold and as you'd expect, they are lighting up the football world and turning heads each and every week, the top clubs in Europe are prepping a major transfer budget to snap up our quality loanees.
Professor Calculus
@damiano_tommassi, you're making things way to complicated. I don't care about Liverpool or any other team. I care about Arsenal. People can argue this and way or that, the simple proof is on the pitch. Are Arsenal fine, is all well? Honest Answer only please, and in that answer you'll see the problem. That's all there is to it. Everything else is dithering and spin and has got nothing to do with football.
Professor Calculus
I don't see that much exceptional young talent these days unfortunately, the "superquality" we do have appears to be overplayed & injured because of the dross that Wenger had/has no faith in. Playing Wilshere last year consistently when he was in the "red zone" is unacceptable, but he had no choice, because of the crp that he couldn't move on because they were too comfy earning a very healthy salary compared to other clubs were I swear they have to earn it a lot more than over here. I really, really struggle to identify more than 3 players in this squad that are "exceptional". Van Persie, maybe Vermaelen (altho not of late) and Sagna, with Jack as a youngster who hasn't proved himself yet, we're just lumping more and more on his shoulders.
I don't know PC, Szczesny - Sagna - Vermaelen - Mertesacker - Gibbs - Gervinho - Ramsey - Song - Wilshire - Chamberlain - RvP... not good enough to play alongside Cesc? Bit harsh!

Are Arsenal fine? Yes. Much as people might like to whinge about them, yes, they are. I remember half the people on here trying to tell me we'd be relegated this season, about three months ago.
It would be nice to have a concentrated conversation with Damiano instead of using a million and one different examples that aren't relevant to the points being made. People that slag off the press can be just as bad as them in terms of hyperbole "just ask Pompey fans!!!! Just ask Leeds fans!!!!" well, no, I quite clearly don't want us to go out and spunk 10 mil on Seth Johnson but can't you see there is some middle ground to be gained here?
Of course we have stadium loans still to repay, but the accounts show £55m or thereabouts in cash reserves. It would be crazy to spend all of that, but spend at least a chunk of it on trying to make the team more competitive. It can't be used for anything other than salaries or transfers. In fact, that's one of the conditions of our stadium loans, that a certain percentage of cash is used on the the team. The mistake Prof points out with Cesc is being repeated all over again with RvP. He must be looking at Cesc now, playing with players of his class, free from the shackles of having to bail 10 teammates out time and time again and think, "that's the life for me."
Little Dutch
LOL be relegated, nice one Damiano, let's use 1 poster's complete and utter hysteria and turn it into an argument from the masses shall we? Saying everything is fine says to me that you're either, not that emotionally attached to Arsenal, or are extremely easily pleased.
It's hard to find exceptional talent, Shewore - United haven't since their nineties crop, Liverpool since Gerrard etc., whereas Arsenal can claim to have developed Wilshire, Chamberlain (tenuously!),Szczesny, Ramsey, Gibbs, RvP, Song over the last 5 years. 7 players, all first-team, and soon to be all internationals, and all quality (barring Gibbs, who I've never rated personally....)
Shewore - wasn't just one person. Check back through the boards. But that's not the point; the point is that many people over-react to situations. Like sitting 4th. in the premier league after the worst start ever/losing two massive players/suffering many injuries.

Why does it have to be that I'm easily pleased? Maybe you're impossible to please! Arsenal is one of the best clubs in Europe, and I'm proud of it.
dt, the stadium is financed by secured bond at low interest. it has never been a problem in that aspect. you don't buy furniture only after you pay off your mortgage. as of 2010, there was 255 mil in our reserve and it's very clear that we are not suffering financially. the budget constraint is self-imposed. it seems like our cap for transfer fees is around 15 mil. gallas & cesc was on an 80k pw package before they left. ditto rvp now, our best paid player
only RvP is proven out of those names unfortunately.
Hey Joe. how long 'til we're paid-up? Seems to me the biggest problem is wages - money's always been spent (how much was Reyes?) but Wenger think's it's "immoral" to pay players massive wages, doesn't he.
Reyes was around 10-12m, didn't get close to filling up the add ons.
There's a relief!
How last minute was the Arteta signing? lol is that a genuine question? Really? I didn't think it'd go through and if Arteta hadn't of talked to Moyes personally then it wouldn't have, it was so last minute they could probably make a Hollywood blockbuster out of it where the descending red digits stop on 00:03. It was so close to the line that were considering running an ad campaign using Mikels beaming face. It's apparant to me that those five deadline day signings would not have happened without the poor start to this season. That was the reason those signings were made. Surely we can all agree on that? Which sums up for me the lack of prescience and ambition at the moment. We had suffered an absolute collapse from Feb onwards last season yet we were quite prepared to learn no lessons from that and to go into this season with the same squad, I guess because if 4th is the aim at the start of the season it's good enough at the end of the season. We were prepared to start this season having sold our first and 3rd choice LBs with only Gibbs - an injury in human form, again a startling lack of awareness and prepration for the inevitable when he hobbled off after what 3 games? Lets be clear Cesc nasti and clichy didn't walk out the door on the 31st August, we had weeks to get arses in gear and go ot to get replacements for them and the sum we received for them should have been plowed straight back in to SOLELY finance the experience and talent needed to replace them, we find other funds - ie whatever mythical transfer budget we had allowed ourselves for this season - for the sack, Arteta and anyone else we felt we needed to strengthen NOT pay for them out of that income. There comes a time when the promotion of youngsters is never going to be enough and losing two world class players from your midfield after the tail end to the season we had endured is it. Especially when the replacements are one lad who has just been thrashed for a 48 game season before and the other is just returning from a potentially career threatening injury. Just terrible decisions one after another keep on coming.
i just found that as of 2011, we have 268 mil in capital & reserve. see here (page 38 @ capital & reserves - shareholder:
also, just for cash & short term deposits, there is a whopping 160 mil sitting idly in the bank. the group's net debt is only 98 mil. if we really want to pay off, it's just a call away & we can even afford a c. ronaldo on top of that. see here:
Not going to have another 'transfer window' row with you Niko, we covered that off at the time quite substantially. Would you be as unhappy if Arsenal had bought Scott Parker in the last hour of the transfer window? Does it matter whether it happens in the final hour or the day before? Can the manager not wait to be sure that a player is leaving before he adds another one to the books (as opposed to paying 10 mil and paying the wages of six central midfielders who all want to be first-choice)?
Joe, that being the case, why not just pay off the debts? Maybe there are early repayment penalties or something?
whatever financial constraint is a myth. we are not merely rich in terms of non liquid assets, we are cash rich and there is a different
The balance sheet shows "Long term creditors and provisions" to stand (for 2007-2011) at:

is that the stadium debt?
(that's £1,000's, by the way, so for 2011 £314,186,000 is still owed)
The sustainable model simply means not going bust. It obviously doesn't mean silverware.
Wyn Mills
However you read the finance sheets (perhaps squinting and confused like me), we are financially constrained in as much as we cannot match the investments being made by the billionaire oligarchs at City and Chelski. We just cannot. So trying to do things exactly as they do won't work - we have to do it differently.
dt, we secure a long term finance for the stadium at favorable rate and those money sitting in the bank is earning compounded interest. i have no idea how much is the tradeoff if we pay off the stadium now but it doesn't really matter. the issue is, what is the plan of our directors with money knowing well that we still have so much left even if we decide to pay off all our debts? dividend pay out?
Could be Joe, but who knows, maybe they'll but a lifesize statue of Wenger made from gold. There has to come a point where we've got through the 'servicing our debt' stage and start to reap the rewards of the move, because we don't seem (to me) to be spending more than we did at Highbury.
Yes LD all players now days just want trophies and medals. Thats' BS the majority want money, and dont care who they play for so long as there is money money. There will come a time for the piper to be paid. Arry will run as soon as the money is offered, and it hurts to say so will most of all the other players. If we offer RVP 120000 or more he will stay as long as Man City dont offer 180000. I'm not knocking him, because most of the players are tainted with the same brush. I am hoping against hope Players like Jack Frimpong will lead the way and show loyalty to the club but I wouldn't put my house on it.
just got through a bit more on the account. our net debt is 98 mil, meaning after after deducting all our assets including cash, we are still in red - 98 mil. however, our total bond (fixed & floating) is amounted at about 225.5 mil. as far as my reading goes, our stadium is secure by bond, so that should be more or less the outstanding we owe for the stadium. as i said, these bonds has no effect on the operation of the club and we have to understand that the club will not go bankrupt even if we fail to pay for the stadium because at the current real estate valuation, the stadium + surrounding areas could probably worth 500 mil. so if we tradeoff the current value of the asset vs the the loan we took up to build it, we are still very rich
d_t good points mate but its like Canute you wont stop the waves.
Of course it matters when the reinforcements are brought in! Bring them in for pre season let them adapt, climatise, settle, bond with team mates, forge a team mentality, play a few pressure free pre season games, for a club of Arsenals size then no we don't necessarily wait until selling before replacing our best player and captain and another 1st team mainstay in Nasti when everyone knows we're sitting on 50+ mill. If we end up with all of them then Barca pull out so be it, given our injury track record it's never going to be stockpiling is it? And may even have gone some way to assuring the wantaways that there is some strength in depth and no Cesc you might not be needed to carry us every game in order to avoid losing games. I realise we have gone over this subject quite adequately but obviously not adequately enough for it to sink in as you're still the one bringing it up!
I brought it up?? Oh. Then I wish I hadn't.!
Ok maybe shewore raised the summers' dealings initially based on your prior arguments but you pursued it with a somewhat ludicrous questioning as to how late Arteta was purchased when everyone here knows how close we arshavined it. You do make good points damiano but then you go and spoil it all by defending the indefensible. The way we conducted last summer had a distinct effect on how we started the season and it's a main reason why yet again we're sitting here in February predictably out of every competition again barring the event of a rogue state deciding to nuke Italy.
Damiano we definitely won't be reaping the rewards of a 60k stadium playin limitless games in the wafer cup
Jack Frimpong?
Wyn Mills
"Homer who do you hate more, Italy or France?" said Hank Scorpio.
effective, it's like we still have a mortgage of about 255 mil to be paid off in 23 years (30-year bond since 2005) but the property is worth much more right now than the mortgage we took. on top of that we still have 160 mil cold cash in the bank
and if we insist on paying off the stadium first before spending, we'll have to wait for 23 years. maybe at that time rvp's kid will be at his peak
Wyn dont be a p@ick. If you dont know I was refering to the two lads who have demonstrated their love for the club then your being a clown Lately IMHO your comments have been worth reading; but smart Ar@e comments are not. Its bloody hard enough trying to type and read the small print. Be a big boy and give your seniors a bit of slack; okay.
Ok AG. I must admit i was half laughing at the thought of some frankenstein creation that combined the best and worst of Wilshire and Frimpong. I think we'd end up with something that resembled Wayne Rooney!
Wyn Mills
Love frimpong giving that creep Piers Morgan (or Prize Moron as Viz so succinctly used to put it) on Tw@tter. See this is where I agree with alwaysgunner when he talks about support. All of us we're just blokes on a forum venting off yet if we were to present our views to an outside world or if we were in a highly public position I'd like to think we'd stand up for our club, defend it against the onslaught of media negativity, y'know use that public platform to bolster and help Arsenal instead of belittle and undermine it at every turn. It's fair game given the goings on of the last few seasons for our grumbles to be legit but for an absolute bell end like Morgan who let's face it it's uncomfortable just knowing this cock 'supports' the same club as you is relentless in his public assassination of Arsenal and Wenger then that also means enough is enough. Because even given his and the clubs' increasingly bizarre decisions I will always side with Wenger over you the likes of you Morgan you despicable smug phone hacking parasite.
Wyn you made an old man smile(of course I'm still a teenager in my mind, ask my grand kids Lol). Nicko could not agree more we re like family we can find fault with our team but woe-be-tide any one outside doing the same. We have the scum coming to town, I hope we rip their arms off and ride them like motor bikes.
should have been We rip their arms off stuff them in their ears and ride them like motor bikes. Sorry.
Works either way mate ;)
niko, We do give the club support, Arsenal's away fans always turn up in big numbers. I've said I will back Wenger for as long as he's Arsenal manager but we can still say that he and the owner (owners?) have consistently fu**ed up golden, wonderful opportunities presented before them. For that they deserve nothing but criticism. This is a behind closed doors critique though, when it comes to support and the club needs us then we'll give it, when it comes to the autopsy we would be deluded cowards to hold back.
Professor Calculus
but as fans how do we make our voices heard to the club? Unless, like LD, you're a member of the AST and can grill Gazidis face to face, most of us only have the soapbox of fan forums or the pub to express frustrations, hopes, fears and opinions. For me support of my club is ultimately about supporting a crest, a shirt, an institution...rather than any individual. Lets face it Individuals are fallible and can screw up. They can have priorities or agendas that come before the club. We dont always trust them unreservedly. Thats why they're fair game for criticism (and praise) in my book . I may have a moan but Id never fail to defend or support my club.
Wyn Mills
Do you think jack has his cheque book at the ready? If Arsenal come out of the NLD with nothing I'd count the race for who's gonna finish higher as over. Any fan calling for Wengers' head needs to take a step back and realise that without him the club will sink. The powers that be at the club are happy with the way the club is run and won't change it, who could come in and work to his standards? Need for change? maybe, but not at management level.
Derby score? 2-2 for me. That score will suit Tottenham more.
It amazes me to see that the manager still has support, this is becoming increasingly like a scene from The Bunker wher Hitler wandered the corridors and telling all that salvation was just around the corner. It is not. Arsenal FC is now dead in the water and it's not an engine trouple that is stopping us but the one at the helm. We bemoan a weak squad and under par players so let me suggest something different. That our squad is actually not that weak or off the pace but being misused and mismanaged. If we had a coach that would change tactics as soon as he saw them going wrong and bought players for positions they where acustomed to, if he put emphasis on training the defense, if he made an effort to link the wings and midfield to the attack then we would actually have a very good team. hence in my opinion the answer is not give the manager the cach to splash..........but to sack him and get a manager in that can do the things mentioned above with a sizeble war chest to strengthen where he demed it needed.
I don't see it as any reason for amazement, Armory. Wenger is still a very good manager, you could criticise and support him at the same time. I dislike making judgments on Wenger's future after a few defeats. At the season end, we can always figure out whether its a good time for him to go.
After a few defeats? Am I reading this right? ******** hell how deluded can you be prits it's not few defeats but years of shambels, broken promizes and out right lies. And for judge him in May I did just that amongst many othere fans....few years back. Are going to be spouting the same rubbish in 2013 after another year of failiure broken promizes and lies? Becouse we are seeing a rerun of 2011 2010 2009....where the team collapses in the new year and defends like a blind mole.

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