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Chelsea 2 Arsenal 1

Ordinarily, Chelsea away constitutes a whole day out, with plenty of pre and post match beverages. But a mixture of the weather, the lunchtime kickoff and my feeling a tad under the weather, we forewent pre match festivities to trudge through the snow to the game. Whilst Southwest London was blanketed in continuing snowfall, public transport actually seemed to be working (if only the Northern Line had shown such fortitude this past week) and it was very much a case of game on! Gloves, hats and jackets the size of wardrobes were very much the order of the day.

Once we had seen the Arsenal away contingent lay waste to the condiments tray in the Shed End upper during a very raucous rendition of "ten Tottenham points in the gap" we made our way to our £59 seats hoping the team were as enthused as we were. They weren`t really. Not at first anyway. This Arsenal team just doesn`t know how to play a first half and so it proved on this occasion. The Chelsea fans early chorus of "Champions of Europe we know what we are" was cheekily countered with the riposte "Champions of Europe, on ITV4" by the away contingent.

The home side might have had a penalty in the opening minutes when Abou Diaby performed his usual Scarecrow impression (#If I only had a braaaaain#) by bear hugging Oscar in the area. Thankfully Martin Atkinson was n forgiving mood and didn`t penalise. The Gunners had a beautiful chance to take an early lead as Walcott slipped Giroud through on goal with just Cech to beat. But Giroud lamentably flashed the ball wide when it was easier to score. I like Giroud; I think he adds a lot to the team with his endeavour and his hold up play, which is exceptional. But he`s just not clinical enough in front of goal. Thierry Henry is training with us for another fortnight, I`d suggest Olivier stays behind for a few sessions over that time and works with a master.

That piece of profligacy was punished within seconds. Azpilicueta swung a diagonal ball into Arsenal`s area and Juan Mata pulled the ball out of the sky and showed the difference of having a clinical player in such a position. He controlled and lashed past Szczesny with the minimum of fuss. There were some complaints from the Arsenal bench that Coquelin had been fouled in the build up to the goal, in truth, I don`t remember the incident that caused him to go down, so I can`t really comment. But to concede such a soft goal was rather criminal in any case. Missing easy chances and defending so poorly against this level of opposition will always invite punishment.

Santi Cazorla briefly caused Chelsea hearts to flutter with a long range drive which Cech did well to parry, but the home side were well on top. Arsenal appeared to stand a good yard off of any Chelsea player with the ball. In his many injury spells, Abou Diaby is talked up as some kind of cross between Vieira, Keane and Scholes "when fit." But he still has a capacity for brainlessness that would leave the common street pigeon chortling into its monocle. He mindlessly dithered on the ball in central midfield and allowed Ramires to dispossess him, leaving Arsenal exposed on the counter attack. Oscar played a through ball to Ramires. From the Shed End he looked offside (I accept the Shed End is hardly the best angle to judge and that he probably wasn`t). The Brazilian looked to skip past Szczesny before hitting the floor. From where I was, it looked like there had been no contact on Ramires but that Szczesny hadn`t got the ball. All that matters is that Martin Atkinson gave the penalty. Frank Lampard stepped up and rolled it into the bottom corner for 2-0.

At this stage, I turned to Lord Lowe and opined "I think this could be 4-0 by half time." Arsenal stood off Chelsea, Cazorla and Walcott offered no protection or offensive support to Sagna and Gibbs, Diaby looked like he needed an A-Z and Chelsea were being allowed all the time on the ball they wanted. Fortunately, Benitez opted to put the hilariously useless Fernando Torres upfront. With a proper striker, Chelsea might have been out of sight by the break. So for all their possession, it was only when Ramires skipped past Gibbs but wildly hacked his shot over the bar that Chelsea threatened a clear cut opportunity.

Arsenal`s complete inability to turn in any kind of first half performance had left me thankful that we were only 2-0 down. But there was a different attitude and performance in the second half. On 48 minutes, Arsenal fired a warning shot as a corner fell to Per Mertesacker, who dug out a shot with his left foot, but could only fire straight at Cech. The Diaby set Walcott away in the channel, but his shot across goal was well saved by Cech. Kieran Gibbs, more ably supported by Cazorla, became increasingly involved in the second half and his flighted cross seemed to have found Giroud in the area, but Ivanovic did just enough to put him off mid air and make his header a tame one.

The screw was slowly turning. Walcott and Giroud had had a number of close offside calls go against them as they attempted to play on the shoulder of the Chelsea defence. (Again, from my vantage point behind the goal, I`m in no position to question the validity of the calls). But the Gunners finally got one right as Cazorla slipped a pass into Theo Walcott, who held off the challenge of Ivanovic to sweep past Cech. Game on. Arsenal pushed and pushed and Chelsea looked rattled, having let a two goal lead slip on Wednesday night. Ashley Cole had to cynically take down Theo Walcott on the edge of the area after Wilshere had tackled Lampard and the ball squirmed back into the Chelsea area.

The Gunners forced a succession of free kicks and corners but couldn`t make good enough use of them. With Arsenal pressing, Chelsea did have chances on the break. Fortunately the best of them fell to Fernando Torres, who bore down on Arsenal`s goal but stayed true to form by tripping over his own feet and allowing Szczesny to collect. What a relief that Chelsea did not start with Demba Ba. Arsene threw the dice by throwing Arshavin on for Diaby. I say he threw him on. He`d have had better luck rolling him on. I haven`t seen Arshavin for a while and now I think we all know why he`s not getting a look in. He looks like he`s about to give birth. What appalling shape for a £60k a week professional athlete to be in. What a poor indictment on the attacking options in our squad that this tubster was allowed anywhere near the pitch. He looks like a weeble. He should be ashamed of himself.

Chelsea ought to have wrapped the game up when Demba Ba sprung the offside trap and rounded Szczesny. As the Senegalese moved towards the goal, Thomas Vermaelen stood strong on the line and made an excellent last ditch block. Arsenal tried to break through and a last ditch equaliser briefly looked on the cards when Giroud`s flick on nearly reached Walcott, but Cole hooked away at the last minute. Giroud had a header that just drifted over too with virtually the last touch of the game. It had been a spirited second half display, but Arsenal`s season long habit of pretending the first half exists only as a concept in an alternate universe hit them hard. You can very rarely start a game 45 minutes too late and get away with it. Doing so away at Chelsea is never, ever going to see you rewarded. LD.

CHELSEA: 1.CECH, 28.AZPILICUETA, 24.CAHILL, 2.IVANOVIC, 3.A.COLE, 7.RAMIRES, 8.LAMPARD (c), 17.HAZARD (21.Marin `88), 10.MATA, 11.OSCAR (34.Bertrand `71), 9.TORRES (29.Ba `81). Unused: 19.Ferriera, 22.Turnbull, 26.Terry, 57.Eke.

ARSENAL: 1.SZCZESNY, 3.SAGNA, 4.MERTESACKER, 5.VERMAELEN (c), 28.GIBBS, 22.COQUELIN (16.Ramsey `58), 2.DIABY (23.Arshavin `75), 14.WALCOTT, 19.S.CAZORLA, 10.WILSHERE, 12.GIROUD. Unused: 6.Koscielny, 11.A.Santos, 24.Mannone, 25.Jenkinson, 26.Frimpong.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday January 20 2013

Time: 8:53PM

Your Comments

A balanced coverage of what transpired at the Bridge LD and pretty timely too. Winger has got to get the players playing better from the start; he admits the problem and thinks it is psychological so, at least, we are getting somewhere. How about starting with a clear plan for the players to rehearse and come on to perform from the start? It looks like the side can't handle if games when something (points) is at stake and just go into hiding till when they can be sure that whatever they do in the second half can appear heroic, even if they end up losing.
Naijagunner
We do need big game players (Jack, Coquelin, Gibbs have it in degrees) who can be relied upon to keep a level head and fight back, when it calls for it. We are also naive at times; the replays showed that Ramires stamped on Coquelin's shin, thus getting an advantage of a free run into our half for their first goal. While the ref should have stopped play for that infringement, it wasn't an excuse for the team to also stop playing and lose their men; we need to be tuned on always and play smart. In this area, we miss Arteta who seems to be well schooled in the tricks of the trade and is usually very alert to the wiles of teams like Chelsea. I feel he would have seen the danger in such a situation and called attention to it or done something about it himself.

Chelsea do engage in some sinister acts which usually go unnoticed by refs because they are crafty enough to make such acts look normal or unintentional. Take the dive by Ramires for the pen and the many niggly fouls which Ivanovich and Terry are renowned for; Ivanovich leaned into Giroud to put him off his header, as you reported. There were serial fouls on first Coquelin, Jack then Theo and they took care to share the fouling responsibilities so as to avoid retribution to any one player. It is all good that you have suggested Giroud learn from the master in Henry; in the same vein, Per Mertesacker has to remain behind to hone his leaping and heading skills as he doesn't offer enough in aerial battles in the opponents' area when he is asked to go forward when we are chasing games. He needs to be more aggressive and assertive in such situations. I am not sure how much we can take away from this game as we did know January and February posed some daunting fixtures for us. We have already dropped 6 points to key rivals for the CL spots. Things have to change!
Naijagunner
Sure it won't come as much consolation, but really thought Arsenal emerged from that game with a lot of credit. You looked like you were on course for an absolute pasting in the first half, but your second half fight back deserved at least a point.
fifthcolumnblue
A lot of doomers lashing our first half tactics. If had to say tactics were an issue, rather than just not being up to the necessary standard of executing the ones we had it would be that Jack seemed to want to press and Diaby and Coq wanted to sit back. This is the only explanation I can see for the standing off of Chelsea's midfield and Jack's repeated call to arms. Ultimately, the first half was won by Chelsea, the old fashioned way. Win the centre. Ramires owned Diaby and Coq. Lampard mopped up and distributed. Mata, Hazard and Oscar tore us a new one. Our inability to hold onto the ball in the middle was constantly exploited out wide because Santi and Theo play narrow and turnovers left them well out of position. Sagna and Gibbs had also often push up for width and were out of position as well. All around very poor in the first half. Oh for Giround to have nailed that early chance...
DeadwoodGooner
The game was pretty even in retrospect. I mean compared to Tottenham - Man U. Chelsea destroyed us first half but we were pretty conclusively on top for the entirety of the 2nd. We probably do still need to strengthen if we want anything positive to come out of this season.
Arsenales F.C
Whilst I accept the concept that Sagna had to cover too much ground by himself for much of that first half it should have been apparent to him what was going on early in the game and he should have kept his forrays to a minimum until Wenger/Walcott sorted it out. His prime directive is to be a defender, if he's not going to be able to get his arse back into position in time then he's got to sit back a little bit. There were times when he didn't even bother to try and get back. I think Jenkinson should really get a run out, Bac has been out of form of late.

Tim, I don't know if you've seen the highlights yet but it was a definate foul by Ramierez on The Coq in the build up to the goal, and it was never a penalty. But that still doesn't excuse the defending.
Rocky7
Agree with Deadwood. System was fine. Execution was poor. Physically and psychologically, the players were just not up for that first half
Eboue=GOD
Much as I like Jenks potential and energy I think he'd have been crucified in this game. Sagna getting forward is a quite defensive tactic. Inviting them onto us by sitting back wouldn't have helped us greatly. The problem wouldn't have been solved had Sagna sat back. It was solved when others did their job properly. Sagna is one of the positives in the team at present but he's going to need a rest before too long as he's having to put a great deal into every game.
Amos.
I think the over-all being defensive by getting foward tatic can work if implemented properly, but the way it worked out yesterday would have been the same as Giroud trying to score goals by playing centre back (which admittedly would have probably produced the same result yesterday). It might have invited them onto us, but you've got more chance of defending a move when a player is actually there. At one point yesterday Chelsea broke forward andit wasn't until Ramierez took the shot that Sagna appeared back on the screen when a Chelsea player had been at the far post for the best part of 10 seconds by himself. Of course something may have happened off screen that stopped him from getting back, but judging by the rest of the game I think it was just tieredness. Jenkinson can only improve (and has improved) with game time. The more he players, the better he will get, and if Bac is truly tiered then he will benefit from the rest. I certainly don't think he would have done any worse yesterday.
Rocky7
If Sagna was trying to cover Ramires then he was trying to do someone else's job for them. It would be easy to pick out some positive moments in Sagna's game yesterday as well those he didn't get it right. The overall balance of his game was good and especially so once the team got it right. Sagna then didn't have to do anything differently than he was doing in the first half. What we need is a captain on the pitch that can put it right before we get back to the dressing room.
Amos.
Maybe I have to watch the game again without being impared by emotion, but all I saw was Sagna not getting back to defend and over-hitting crosses. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Bac has turned into a bad player, just that he's not doing so hot at the minute. We often speak of the need of competition within the squad to keep everyone on their toes, and while Jenkinson isn't as good as Sagna he's certainly more than capable to play in this team. What's the point in having a squad if we're not going to utilise it when players are clearly knackered?
Rocky7
PS - No, Ramires was breaking down the left and into the box, but Bac was miles back up the pitch leaving (I forget who it was) completely free to run to the far post. Sagna didn't even catch up till after the shot had been taken. You can't blame Ramires for shooting but if he'd have looked up we'd have been in trouble.
Rocky7
As I see it we're really playing 4-4-2 at the moment so Walcott is playing even less of a right wing role than he did before. He was always pretty ineffective defensively anyway just nuisance value really so that's not a bad thing as he has some definite value in and around the box. The problem is that our 4 man midfield were all playing in the same spaces for much of first half so Sagna especially and to a lesser extent Gibbs were finding they had to cover too much space. It was only sorted out at half time.
Amos.
I agree with that statement, but in the instance I mentioned and one or two other times, it wasn't a case of Sagna not being able to cover everything due to a lack of help, he didn't cover anything at all.
Rocky7
I tend to agree with Amos' take on the matter of Sagna's effectiveness in that game. The 2 (?) defensive midfielders on parade should be sharing the role of supporting the full backs when needed; much the same way you are likely to find Arteta covering for Gibbs and tackling in the left full back area, many a time. Coquelin hardly gave that kind of covering till the 2nd half. Why we had to wait till the half time talk to correct it, I'll never know but these are things which a senior member of the team can notice, obtain clearance from the bench and pass on the directives for action. Per Mertesacker is experienced enough to read such flaws in our game plan and take charge. As I stated before about him, he needs to stay back at the training ground to improve his assertive heading skills and be more useful with his height in situations when he is instructed to go forward, if we are chasing a game or need a goal. He has been hardly effective so far and has had more attempts with his feet than head.
Naijagunner
I think Sagna will draw more criticism the more goals he's almost directly responsible for, Everton and yesterday for example. He has definitely lost some form and i'm not sure if it's injuries catching up, or something behind the scenes (contract?). There was an example in the first half (yet to see the highlights so could be wrong) where Walcott was raring to go down the right side, all he had to do was knock it over the top or long and Theo would've been on the end of it, instead he passed to the Chelsea player pretty much. And we categorically need a stronger squad, it's plain as day and there for all to see.
shewore
re the chance in the first few minutes for Giroud, I was going absolutely bananas at that miss. If we'd have gone one up at Stamford Bridge early doors and got a decent foothold in the game, they would've been there for the taking - turns out their 25m man shows the difference when in that sort of situation
shewore
But not their £50m man? Perhaps there's a law of diminishing return - a footballing laffer curve we need to consider? Which goal was Sagna directly responsible for - not the penalty I guess. Was he the one that should have been picking up Mata or should that have been one of our midfielders? True his scuffed clearance gave Fellaini the goal at Everton but he did pretty well to read it and get back to attempt the clearance. Most goals conceded are rarely down to a single failing. I'm not looking to absolve Sagna of any of his errors but the idea that that we'll see an improvement if we change the player without changing anything else is a bit misguided. Change what needs to be changed first and then judge the player. Sagna did well in the second half.
Amos.
Everyone did well in the 2nd half, we just didn't have that quality to get anything from the match. If we did have a top class player up top we'd have come back and won that, Chelsea were on the ropes. Most attacks were coming down our right side (unless I was seeing things), and Mata's goal was Sagna's man wasn't he? Obviously there's the build up to take to account but I think he could've done better. lol Torres.
shewore
Rocky, I can't agree on Sagna (except for the bad crosses and fatigue). Positionally I think he is doing what's expected. Full backs in our system are always exposed if we don't hold the middle and we got murdered in the middle in the first half. Our system demands our FBs to provide attacking width with narrow attacking wide players (Walcott an aux striker making it worse). Can't fault him for trying to be in a position to exploit space, esp (per first goal) when he is in acres of space to receive a pass. Not his fault ball is turned over by poor control etc. If he sits back we have no switch option.
DeadwoodGooner
They were doing well down both flanks but we were more exposed on the right. The first goal was a break from our left but everyone had stopped for the 'foul' and everyone out of position but just as Cazorla failed to play to the whistle and let the break develop so had the rest of our midfield. If you look at the point at which Coquelin went to ground all 4 midfielders were within a couple of yards of each other in and around the centre D in the Chelsea half. Once we lost possession we were wide open. Whether Jenks had been there instead of Sagna or Lauren or Dixon or anyone else, with the right ball the result would probably have been the same.
Amos.
Just seen the Mata goal again, our back four got a bit too sucked in there, exposing Sagna to be on the wrong side of Mata, he should've aniticipated it a bit better though. Class from Mata though he really is a top drawer player.
shewore
I think that is a very valid point Amos. When watching the game and even more so when re-watching, I noticed how cramped our MF was. Looking at Chelsea players movement and that lovely 10-15 yard triangle they moved the ball between and comparing it to Arsenal, it looks like Arsenal were taking up a 1 yard triangle. I know we used to like operating in tight spaces but at times we were literally on top of each other. We looked under practised at what we were meant to be doing and that is unacceptable.
No 10
I think Sagna should have picked up and tracked the incoming Mata. He reacted very late. Or do we just adopt zonal marking at corners? And do we really have to repeat the mantra about playing to the whistle? Our system also uses an overlapping fullback system which requires a fast player who can get to the byline and put in consistently good crosses. When you compare Gibbs' recent output with Bac's you can easily see how far the latter has regressed.
Wyn Mills
Sagna has by his standards under performing for a while and I agree that Jenks should get a game. He is not better than an on form Sagna but he is the long term replacement and should be used when Sagna, who is not that long back from injury, is tired.
No 10
It's because Chelseas mf have had a whole season to play together No 10, Diaby and Le coq have had 1 game, that's why they're under practiced, you can get away with it against a swansea team missing 8 starters, not against a team like chavsea.
nikolaijns
If you take a look at Mata's starting position when they break he's jogging centrally behind the ref on the edge of the D in our half from where he made his run unchallenged. Chaotic midfield play. From his position out on the right Sagna made an attempt to get back and between Mata and the goal but it was never going to be easy.
Amos.
Niko that's fine mate but why stand off Mata and Hazard so much? I was speaking to a couple of Chelsea pals after and they simply could not believe how much space they were afforded. Giroud has a long way to go but I do like him, he should be much more of a handful than he is though, I appreciate this is something you learn over time but his learning needs to be expedited cos he's our only effiin striker
shewore
For the 1st goal I do think Per needs to take some responsibility too, as does Chez to be honest. But Sagna was very wasteful in possession all through the game.
No 10
I agree with your Chelsea mates which is why Sagna had a few problems in the first half. We're playing 4-4-2 so Walcott's as much of a striker as Giroud is. Walcott took his goal very well. A pretty weak bench for such a game though. No Poldo or even Ox to call on.
Amos.
Weak bench is an understatement. Walcott's finish was class. I thought even that dench berk could've given us more energy in the middle of the park than Ramsey, which is what i thought we needed.
shewore
Yep, when you look at the Utd bench with Rooney, Giggs and Hernandez sitting there waiting to get stuck in it pretty much puts things in perspective.
Wyn Mills
As someone said this weekend, another period on loan might do Ramsey the world of good.
Wyn Mills
No idea shewore, because we have a team full of goldfish? Time after time after time we have one decent game where the players can see the value of a high pressing game only to forget/ignore/let laziness or apathy retake control come the next game and it's back to square one. One game isn't enough to build an understanding of who goes and who sits, wo protects and who attacks. I like the idea of coq & diaby sitting deep but this game just came too soon for that combo. Sagna had a stinker no two ways about it, it happens. Worrying thing is it's not an isolated one off. Chelsea away though, Wenger would've been slaughtered had he started with Jenks if he'd made costly errors. Whether it's form or tiredness though Sagna needs taking out of the firing line for the next couple of games. If nothing else Jenks' relentless energy will be a lift.
nikolaijns
If only we'd invested that £15m we spunked on Arshavin a little more wisely eh? ;) Santos would have been a better attacking option!
Amos.
As someone also said, a snowman built out on the wing would've carried more threat than Arshavin.
Wyn Mills
So Arshavin's been absolutely abysmal and an appalling example of a professional footballer. Does that mean we should never spend more than 15m on a player again?
shewore
No, you can be fairly certain we will spend £15m or more on someone at sometime. It just means that you can't assume spending £15m (or any other sum) on a 'proven world class' player automatically strengthens the team.
Amos.
On Arshavin though he played well when he was playing regularly. It seems he doesn't train well or keep up his fitness so is useless as a squad player. I thought Ramsey did very well when he came on. He got caught in possession once but on the whole he was calm and assured in possession and pulled their MF about which is just what we needed.
No 10
Zaha seems to be available for under £15m. Arsenal fan, tricky winger with a record of beating his man, huge potential a la Ronaldo. Craps all over Gervinho. Am hugely surprised we are not the front runner for this player.
Wyn Mills
Wyn, it seems we're not in for him because...oh wait. No. I can't think why.
No 10
And yes our bench is a massive worry.
No 10
Wenger dithered with Ronaldo. He may be making exactly the same mistake with Ferguson taking advantage once again.
Wyn Mills
I didn't think he dithered with Ronaldo, he just though £8m was very too much
No 10
Real Madrid and just about everyone else obviously disagreed.
Wyn Mills
He would kill Gervinho! I think Carlos Queros had a lot to do with Ronaldo going Utd.
shewore
I don't think we're short on potential whether, Ox, Gnabry, Joel Campbell, Aneke, Afobe and more. If we're going to buy then it needs to be someone 25 plus that stands a chance of contributing now.
Amos.
Had we not spent the outlay on Arshavin it's unlikely we'd have gained CL qualification that year and as Liverpool have shown subsequent years following. We might not have requalified since had it not been for that one January purchase. Let's not confuse a poor purchase with either poor management of a player or an inability to maintain discipline and enforced diet with a player.
nikolaijns
Little did we know when he signed that 'I am gooner' was missing the finish of that sentence as he paused to belch which was 'single handedly subsidise the Barnet branch of Burger King'
nikolaijns
'with coupons from ze metro' apparently he's a right tight arse
shewore
Not that tight by the looks of it.
Wyn Mills
Yeah cos 70+ goals/assists for Arshavin in about 3 full seasons is a terrible return for £15mill, how terribly wasted! He then had the temerity to pass 31, and begin losing speed and reaction time like every other speedy tricky player there has ever been. Ronaldo and Ronaldinho were similar wastes of a player... If only he could've been like £12m Nasri and got us around 40 goals/assists in 3 seasons. Or Rosicky with again about 40 goals/assists for us total. Then Amos would've been happier with his contribution and wouldn't see it as such a waste of money. If only he could've been a player with the level of quality of Almunia or Denilson, those titans of the game you were so fond of defending... so good we can't even use them as makeweights in transfer deals. Whereas if we wanted any player from the Eredivisie, we would have him in an instant if Arshavin's name was mentioned.
Arsenales F.C
Arshavin has scored 70 goals for us? where did you get that brilliant stat from? It says 23 on Wikipedia. He did look decent in his early days but overall he's been a massive disappoinment. At least Rosicky does his best to look after himself, his injuries are down to bad luck and I would say he is a much more talented player than Arshavin when fully fit. Nasri also contributed more in his time at Arsenal and we made a good profit on him. So in conclusion he has been the worst signing of those 3 easily in my opinion.
bowiecokemirror
I see what you mean now... 70+ goals AND assists. I'm still surprised it's that many. I can only assume a lot of those were not of much importance.
bowiecokemirror
If he really has performed so well then why aren't teams queuing up to sign him? He has been poor for about 2 seasons now so his form dipped massively when he was 29. Even at 31 he should be a lot sharper than he is at the moment so you can't really use his age as an excuse.
bowiecokemirror
That's a strange assumption. Which goals are not important, if for nothing else than goal differential?
elbondo
Some goals are less important than others, surely you can understand that. The fifth goal in a 5-0 win in the carling cup for example does not hold much significance. I'm not saying that's what all his goals were like, but I can't remember him scoring many important goals in recent seasons.
bowiecokemirror
If we tried to use Arshavin as a transfer "makeweight" in a literal sense, we'd have enough to sign Messi.
Little Dutch
bowiecokemirror and Amos, without Arshavin in 2009, we would not have finished in a CL spot. We were playing dire football, had lost 5 games before Christmas and were barely able to create or score any goals until he started playing for us. He saved that season for us. So YES, he was worth the 15m we paid for him.
jaelle
Lol, LD. Would be Worth his weight in gold. Isn't he.
Naijagunner
*wouldn't he*
Naijagunner
I wouldn't be so harsh as most here on Arshavin. How we can expect anything more from a player who hasn't had game time for, what, 3 months, is beyond me. And the games he played in were either as a sub or in the league cup. I have no doubt that he would have made a difference had he not been shorn of all confidence by the manager who shows a lack of faith in his squad, consistently. A player like him was just what we needed vs Chelsea to pick the lock, but Alas!
Naijagunner
That cross for Henry to score the winner against Sunderland last season was invaluable as well as that win is considered the reason we got 3rd place, all things considered.
Naijagunner
The idea that Arshavin got us into the CL in the 2009 is just a romantic myth. We had a fairly easy PL run in after Arshavin had joined and we would probably still have qualified without him. We were always comfortable in 5th and 4th was only between us and Villa. Villa went on to pick up just one point from 6 games after Arshavin debuted. Arshavin can't claim the credit for Villa's collapse. The first meaningful contribution in which he might claim he was directly responsible gaining us a point we might not otherwise have had was the 4 goals that gained us one point against Liverpool but we were already 7 points clear in 4th by then. The only other game in which he made a telling individual contribution was the 3-0 against Portsmouth but we were 13 points clear at the time. Bendtner, Nasri, Fabregas all made contributions as or more telling in that period. But we were short in midfield so we had to take what was going but that Arshavin was poor value and way out of his depth in this league was pretty clear once the starry eyes had cleared after those first few weeks. Which is why City left him alone and paid £24m for Nasri instead.
Amos.
Arshavin came in and made 15 goals/assists in 15 games. No-one else was going to do it, nasri at that moment was not capable of doing it, the only player creating was fabregas. It's not remotely true to say playersx had as big a contribution to arshavin when the numbers say differently.
Arsenales f.C
At the time we needed arshavin, he gave us 3 seasons at the age of 28, and then made way for our younger players, if nasri hadn't jumped ship arshavin would've done his job and we would remember him as a decent player who came in and did a job for us. Now nasri has jumped ship we blame a 31 year old arshavin for our wing situation.
Arsenales f.C
That is not a decent excuse for not spending money on a player. If anything that's all the more reason to not sell our best players. Ok we sold van Persie, but did we have to sell song as well? Everyone but our own fans could see he was the most important player in our team behind rvp
Arsenales f.C
Let's have it right Arshavin gave the team an impetus, something that's not quite quantifiable through numbers (even tho if you're that way inclined, they still back it up) that season. This is something that new signings tend to do at times, they give everyone a bit of a kick up the backside. Amos detests Arshavin cos he cost more than 9m ;) How can someone with all those assists/goals be so far out of their depth? When he applies/applied himself he's definitely a top half premiership player.
shewore
What a lot of hysterical tosh! He is out of his depth partly because he can't apply himself. I don't detest Arshavin or any player at all. Though not without some quality I do think he's a pretty poor player that we over paid for. Sure he lifted our spirits for a short time but didn't change anything. The form we had before he joined would still have been enough to have seen us qualify for the CL that season (in fact we could have averaged fewer points per game and still have done so) even if he hadn't joined yet we persist is this deception that somehow he alone was responsible for it and we wouldn't have done so without him. Only one of the games he scored in his first season earned us points and almost half his assists (total of 7 for the season) came in one game when we were already nailed on to qualify. Other than that he had one season when his assists tally in the PL was good mainly as a consequence of taking free kicks and corners not because of much in the way of inspired play. If he hadn't been taking them someone else would have done. Set against that he has among the very poorest passing records and possession stats of any forward. Yet we can hide from all this simply because he was a 'name' we spent a bit of money on! He isn't the only poor player we've recruited whether we've paid big money or very little but no matter how little regard we have for Bendtner and Almunia just one season of Arshavins amortisation cost (forgetting his wages) is enough to cover their costs for 2 seasons.
Amos.
While it has to be said that Arshavin didn't exactly set the PL alight, largely due to the formation we played and how it affected his own competencies, to list out stats with the intention of making light of his contributions to the team during his time with us is as underhand as it can get. So, now we are saying some goals and assists are less important??? Or, that the fact that a team (this Arsenal team, in fact) is 2 goals up means a 3rd has become less important. Considering that the PL is replete with stories of teams reigning in other teams, even after giving away a sizeable points gap, shows that no team can say it is "nailed on to qualify" until it has become mathematically impossible to be up-ended. Arshavin did his part for the club in his time here, including that goal to beat Barcelona at the Emirates (how many of our players could have been that cool in similar circumstances?) and it is unfair that we should even be discussing taking away from his contributions, no matter how badly we rate him today. If he is useless, why not release him?
Naijagunner
The stats being listed are to try to make a case for Arshavin I'm simply adding some perspective to them. Nobody's taking anything away from what he did do but based on PL appearances Arshavins goals and assists per game aren't as good as Poldolski has managed so far. Poldolski hasn't convinced everyone either but the perspective is useful. I don't think it's any secret that Wenger has been trying to shift him for a couple of seasons but he has a contract. The amount of playing time he's getting probably tells you how useful he is. There can't be many players that have performed as consistently poorly as Arshavin has done almost since he's been here yet be excused with as much latitude as he gets. He's clearly one of the Teflon coated players.
Amos.
Errr - no he's not, have you been at any games where he's been on the pitch of late?
shewore
There haven't been too many games where he's turned up when he's been on the pitch of late. Err - no he's not what? Teflon coated? Haven't you read some of the excuses for him? Including one of your own recently along the lines of him being a really great player but just doesn't want to try! Like all the great players I suppose?
Amos.
Maybe people are just trying to add a little perspective? Instead of everyone jumping down his throat. Yes, he most certainly isn't covered in teflon, and fans have been letting him know that for quite some time now. If you want to believe that i said he was a really great player then you believe that. I think it was more along the lines of him having a lot of ability, but just not applying himself, but you go with that though, it's cool.
shewore
Well we're all adding our perspective then which is what it's all about. I think the 'Arshavin got us into the CL' myth was one most in need of some perspective. I did rather attempt to paraphrase your claim which was that he has bags of natural ability which he doesn't use through choice. I'm not sure whether that helps or not.
Amos.
From my perspective Arshavin’s case highlights Wenger's poor record when it comes to management of experienced senior players. I’ve come to the conclusion he’s just not comfortable dealing with them. The highly experienced don’t seem to last long here. We have no Scholes or Giggs. RvP was simply the latest in a long line of senior players who dared question the system and were given short shrift. Rather than force a transfer Arshavin seems content to sit out his contract in the reserves (while others may prefer the injury table). Either way there’s a worrying and persistent lack of motivation in experienced players the club have invested heavily in.
Wyn Mills
It seems quite hard to find any former senior players who have a bad word to say about Wenger so it seems unlikely that he has any real problems of that nature. He does have a very firm stance on senior players having to prove themselves each year and not simply rest on their reputations but Bergkamp lasted quite a while as did a number of other players. Arshavin doesn't have to force a transfer he can just decide whether he wants to go or not. On the other hand the club has no option but to continue to pay him if he doesn't want to leave even though it appears they don't want a fee for him.
Amos.
Bad words are not always the result of a differences between player and manager. Players are not stupid and very few will slag off their ex manager, especially a highly esteemed one like Wenger. My real point is few of our senior players seem to hang around and have real constructive input in the team. I'm struggling to think of many players over 30 who are having a real influence on the team at the moment. As for reputations, they count for a lot. I do think back to the 5-2 win over Spurs in November which Henry attended (having been in training with the squad) and wonder how much his presence actually lifted the team that day and in subsequent matches. Sometimes that level of commitment and motivation can only come from those players of reputation, even if they're not actually on the field.
Wyn Mills
Amos, you can't explain everything away with stats. Whether in football or in life, there are always things that aren't quantifiable. In my mind, the signing of Arshavin made a difference to that season’s CL qualification. I recall the momentum was with Villa, we were stagnating, and his signing gave everyone a lift. Who’s to say that feel-good factor doesn’t transfer to the players as well and their performances are lifted by having a then highly regarded European star? I also recall a tight game at home against Blackburn where we were again typically running out of ideas and inspiration passing the opposition to death, and Arshavin came on and scored a great goal. I agree he hasn’t been the most professional since then, but I equally put that down to Wenger’s coaching methods as much as Arshavin. Wasn’t Alex Song also not tracking back as he was meant to? Didn’t Denilson do the same? Isn’t Walcott’s covering of his full back intermittent? Well, I put forward the case that Mourinho, Guardiola and Ferguson would not stand for that. Wenger has lost his way without any question. How long did we indulge Eboue for ffs? You can hardly blame RvP or Cesc leaving when having got and converted an injury-time penalty against Liverpool two seasons ago Eboue only goes and concedes another. Who is the person to blame for indulging such a player?
Gooner_Vin
Henry has attended most of the recent matches too, and trained with the squad. It wasn't so long ago that Beckham (not even our old boy) also graced the training ground with his presence for a while. I take your point about senior pros hanging around but Giggs and Scholes are local boys so that might be a factor (plus ManU are likely to provide the best chance of picking up medals) that doesn't have the same pull for players like Ronaldo. It would be good to have some useful experienced pros that will stick around for a while. Arteta may fit that role and Rosicky would do if he wasn't always likely to injure himself walking from the dressing room to the bench.
Amos.
when players are in their teen or early 20s, it is easier to re-train their position. problem with arshavin is he is forced to play as a winger when he came here as a 2nd striker, (the bergkamp role) and has been playing there until 29. he played well most of the time when he was given his preferred role. probably, he was never required to run up and down to cover for an attacking fullback for his entire career until he came to play for us. we tried that too on rosicky forcing him to play as a winger for many seasons until we was given a chance to play his preferred central role where he performed admirably last season. ditto to podolski. he stated that his natural position is cf but he is running the flank now. he is our best finisher but wenger's plan is to use another 3 years to prove his decision with giroud was right
Joe_@**
That's what I meant about Wenger not managing senior players, Joe. Its interesting RvP's recent comments about playing in the wrong position and how his new role will limit his exposure to injuries as well as increase his goal scoring efficiency.
Wyn Mills
You need to read the posts again Vin as really I'm not the one citing stats. I accept that in your mind signing Arshavin had an effect on our CL qualification but considered objectively it's an effect that is only in the mind. The momentum might have been with Villa in the early part of the season but by the time Arshavin debuted they had gone into Devon Loch mode. The point is that we would have qualified even if our form had been slightly worse than it had been before we signed Arshavin. In the 12 or so of our PL games that remained most were against teams that finished in the bottom half of the table including all three of the sides relegated. He did score against Blackburn but we were already a goal up and we even indulged Eboue who scored a couple in a 4-0 romp that wasn't tight at all. It should have been much more but we could have lost the game and still qualified. I fully understand that we couldn't have known it at the time but we would have qualified with or without Arshavin. You can't blame the club for taking the chance in the circumstances but with the benefit of hindsight it was a desperate buy that didn't pay off. It's best to judge Mourinho and Guardiola when they manage with the same resources. Fergie also has had much greater resources for a longer period of time but has had fewer other development issues to contend with. But he has done his job well enough for long enough to stand above both Guardiola and Mourinho. Whether any of them would have achieved as much as Wenger has with the resources he has had can never be known.
Amos.
Arshavin doesn't have the passing or possession skills to play in the hole - not at this level. He's certainly no Bergkamp (nor Rosicky either). But you're right to say that he'd prefer to play in a role where he didn't have to do any work. Rosicky on one flank with Hleb (another supposed central midfielder) on the other and Cesc and Flamini central worked pretty well at one time as I recall.
Amos.
I would concur with the idea that AW is not comfortable with senior players , at least signing senior players as his record does indicate. For all the hard bargaining on senior players he has always been quite happy to spend millions on youngsters, whiuch for the most part have been successful (until they leave). I do understand his reluctance at the present time to spend in this window as there are unlikely to be many good long term signings around, and much as we would like to hope otherwise it is probably wishful thinkng that we are going to sign a striker who is going to score twelve between now and the end of the season and guarantee a top four spot. Having said that the squad is desperately weak especially in the striking area. Giroud has a great attitude and good qualities , but he is a Plan B stiker not the main man for a team trying to challenge at the top of the PL, probably not as good as Bendtner ironically enough , and it is likely that AW will only be able to purchase someone of similar quality and this may be why he is clearly reluctant to do so. We must not forget that we have lost two of the world's best in the last two years and replacing these with may be four lesser players was never going to be the answer which is why AW hung on to the last moment for both of them.
grouvillegooner
rosicky+hleb+flamini+cesc, that was the period of time where we passed to the death outside of the penalty box without much penetration
Joe_@**
Really? And there's me thinking it was the time we were second highest scorers while getting within 4 points of the title winners!
Amos.
OT. Who would have thought it, but Gervinho (the forehead) put in a MoTM performance for his country in the African Nations cup, capping it with a well taken winner. Here's hoping he returns full of confidence for the run-in.
Naijagunner
yes, we had the problem of just passing around ouside the box at that time until we alternated the wing positions with more direct players i.e. rvp, walcott and eboue after rosicky was injured and out for over a season. the season where the combination of rosicky+hleb+flamini+cesc played most was 2006-07 when we finished 21 points from the title and scored only league 63 goals, the lowest haul in the last decade. it was during the time where the fans were shouting "shoot" as i remember
Joe_@**
You know Amos there's a general rule in life that says you take the average answer from a crowd of people, e.g. guessing the weight of a cow, and compare it to the one answer from an expert and the average from the crowd will generally be more accurate than the expert. Now I know you consider yourself the 'expert' but in this case the crowd are right, he definitely did galvanise the team, and his stats back it up, you're just twisting things to fit your worldview. I mean you say Arshavin can't play in the hole. He played in the hole against Coventry and everyone was like 'That was amazing we should play him more there". Against Reading a few games ago he played there again and got 3 assists. That's in his current state and seriously short of match practice. Playing in the hole isn't about possession or Wilshere would be amazing in the hole right now, it's about through balls. Lampard is not a possession player, but he will play outstanding through balls as you see time and time again, and the number of assists he gets tells the tale. Arshavin always looks forwards with his pass, that meant he was trying a difficult pass most of the time and in the PL he found defences better organised than in Russia, but looking for those balls still meant he got a lot of assists. He could easily play in the hole because he always looks for the through ball, and maybe out of 10 passes he would find the striker 3 or 4 times, but those 3 or 4 times would be goal scoring opportunities. Possession play is something else entirely.
Arsenales F.C
Our entire economic system is basically hinged on that 'wisdom of crowds' theory. I personally am of the belief that Mannone is better than Sczeszny, but because 99 out of 100 people say Sczeszny is a better keeper than Mannone I accept that it must be an irrational judgement on my part. Whereas you seem to be of the belief that you're right and the 99 other people are wrong.
Arsenales F.C
That's a convoluted way of trying to disprove an argument without any evidence or much certainty as to what it is you disagree with Arsenales. I've never argued that he didn't give the team or the club a lift. I made that very point myself. What I did argue was that we would have qualified for the CL in 2008-2009, which is pretty much the sole justification used for recruiting him, without Arshavin. Look objectively at the teams we played the collapse of Villa's challenge, the number of points we would have needed and the fact that we would have qualified even if our form had been slightly worse than before he joined and it becomes obvious to the crowd, the expert and even the cow itself that our qualification wasn't due to Arshavins impact. He may have played 'in the hole' on occasions but he isn't good enough to do so at this level. He has some ability but simply not enough to justify playing him there other than in the odd domestic cup game though I accept that he could do so in a lower league. He's like Kinkladze or Wanchope or any number of other players who can produce a bright moment but can't really play football at the level we need. Which is why Wenger doesn't play him there (or anywhere else now he has better choices). The wisdom of the crowds theory is a nice a simplistic touch but in many judgements it fails because judgement is swayed by influence Hence a jury (or crowd) can get it wrong if the evidence put before it isn't complete or is distorted or doesn't have all the information. At the same time it can only stand a chance of being right at all if the opinions within the crowd are diverse enough (e.g if every one in the crowd came up with exactly the same weight for your mythical cow they would be less likely to be right). I'm not an expert just one of the crowd. The expert is making the real decisions and probably has more information. Bear in mind that conventional wisdom isn't always true and can in fact be an obstacle to more rational judgements.
Amos.
FYI Arshavin didn't play in the hole against Reading, he played on the left. Intelligent players can play from the wing but still have an impact centrally. Robert Pires didn't spend 6 years kicking his heels moon faced on the touchline and neither did Ljungberg. They had the intelligence and workrate to start wide but influence centrally. To offset the "judgement of the crowd" theory, I suggest looking up Professor Daniel Simons "Invisible Gorilla" experiment. It shows you how you can miss even the most obvious occurences when you've convinced yourself to look for one particular thing.
Little Dutch
Didn't wanchope make over 100 pl appearances for 3 different clubs? Seems an odd player to pick. I just don't see how a player in the twilight of his career can create 70 goals/assists in 3 seasons including some notable ones we all remember and have that to be deemed a failure unless you want it to be. When I do a search for arshavin on YouTube or some other Internet medium, or I talk to the average fan they will only say arshavin was great, but now he's faded, as every other fan talks about former greats. Amos and ld you guys were against arshavin from the jump, and when he was putting in goals and assists on a regular basis you had your blinkers on. Impartiality is not by a long shot what you're displaying and turning it into an argument against spending money for players is ridiculous. You mention Torres all the time like he's the rule. What about the 90% of transfers that go well? 15 million is not even a big money transfer, rvp went for 28m, fabregas went for 40m, and we thought we could have sold them for more. 15m for arshavin on that basis is the return we got, it was neither under or over-valued, we bought a 15m player, we got a 15m player.
Arsenales f.C
If after 10 years of creaming transfer profits, the board refuse to invest the money back into the team it will be the board's fault, not wenger's, in any other managerial role he would be rewarded by finding good buys at cheap prices by giving him the money to get great buys at higher price, they really lucked out in finding a manager like Wenger who is so attached to the team that he forgoes the chance to go elsewhere and win trophies in order to help the team.
Arsenales f.C
http://www.arsenal.vitalfootball.co.uk/article.asp?a=514702 Yes, I was clearly against him from the get go.
Little Dutch
LD " Fourth choice I am sure will draw similarly schismatic opinion, though certainly not through doubt of the quality of the player, which I am sure every Gooner will unanimously attest has been beyond reproach thus far." WOW ;)
shewore
& " Quite simply, and this is idle speculation I guess, I don`t think Arsenal would have qualified for the Champions League next season without him. Mission accomplished comrade Arshavin.LD." God you bloody hated him!
shewore
Yeah I was clearly against him from the get go also! http://www.arsenal.vitalfootball.co.uk/article.asp?a=514368 Most were beguiled after a handful of games, a few bright moments, but he failed to develop as a player good enough to survive at this level consequently his star didn't shine it just flickered all too briefly. Nor did we qualify for the CL in 2009 because of his contribution. We would have qualified anyway. We paid £15m for a player who lifted our spirits for a short time but who has gone on to prove he simply isn't good enough to play at this level.
Amos.
Interesting observation in the comments section to my article from Leonax, apparently a Russian himself familiar with the Russian League. You have to say he was spot on.
Amos.
Yep, noticed that - amazingly accurate.
shewore
calling that a dive by Ramires is utter Baloney...a little bit deluded and playing God, because you would have to know exactly what Ramires was thinking...
JohnnyOz
Anyhow which ever way you spin this or slant that there has been more energy and purpose put into this thread than Arshavin has put into his Arsenal career. He makes Michael Johnson seem a success story. Live in the now people, he's a chronically lazy unmotivated rotund little Owly wage dosser and he needs to seriously feck off and be someone elses' problem.
nikolaijns
Fair enough, it must've been Tom14 I remember. Still either way I don't like the use of anomalies to try and say we would do no better if we didn't sign a big money player is my main point. Whether Arshavin was or wasn't worth the 15m (which I consider within the normal spend for an Arsenal player, not really big money) is what I'm having trouble with. We got 3 decent seasons out of him (including a brilliant first year) - at the age we bought him reasonably that's what we could expect.
Arsenales F.C
don't just lay the blame on the player. if a manager hires a technician to do an engineer's job & failed miserably, the manager is at least equally as bad
Joe_@**
I used to recall L.D. was an Arshavin fan, actually. I know I have read him use words like "our most direct player", "takes on defenders" and "weighted pass" to describe his contributions at times. With game time and some confidence boosting by the manager, Arshavin can still influence games. But, we know these won't happen.
Naijagunner
Certainly I think Arshavin is a player with great ability and he definitely tried to make things happen, which I think accounts for a lot (if not all) of his poor passing rate, because he always wanted to make the pass that would make the difference. However, in the last 18 months I've not wanted him in the team and on Sunday, he looked like an absolute disgrace. I can forgive Squillaci, Chamakh and Almunia hoovering up big wages cos they ultimately weren't good enough. Arshavin is one of our highest paid players and he can't even be arsed to stay out of KFC for a couple of days. That makes me angry and I have no sympathy with him whatsoever. Any "athlete" that looks like that can get to feck.
Little Dutch
Yeah, sadly that is the case for Arshavin. He was good value for that 15M transfer fee in his 1st 1 1/2 seasons (I also believe that he played an important role in qualifying for the CL in 2009) but is poor value for his wages now. Even last season, he came up with vital contributions (assist to Henry vs Sunderland for eg) but nowhere near enough to justify his wages.
prits
 

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