Groundhog Season 2013-14

9 Apr

ImageIn my opinion to be a top manager you need at least 2 of the following qualities;

1. Tactics

2. Motivation

3. Transfer knowledge

1. Tactics

Wenger has never really had tactics; all his teams have been set up to play one way regardless of injuries, form or the opposition. To make things even tougher the game has become far more tactical, even clubs in the lower leagues have hired sports analyst to review oppositions and static’s on players, is it any wonder Rodgers is doing so well (having learnt from Mourinho) or Martinez at Everton.

I’d add to tactics the overplaying of players, which must be in part to the Manager. Ozil for example rarely played more than 60-70mins in Spain so why would you through him in to playing regularly 90mins back to back to back?!? He’s also had players just coming back from injury who haven’t been eased in, Theo played 5 games in 16 days after coming back at Christmas time and subsequently out for 6 months, OX looked sharp when he came back after 3 months out but overplaying seems to have lead to a sharp decline in his performances.

If you want the biggest example for this seasons we’ve all endured the capitulations away to all the “big” teams, what was wrong for aiming for a draw or nicking a 1-0 win?? That’s how those same teams shaped up at our place and it worked for them!!

2. Motivation

Motivation was prevalent in the first (successful) part of Wenger’s leadership but I’d argue that was partially inherited. Coming into a team lacking technical quality but no shortage of leader or heart was the perfect marriage of two differing styles. And those players Wenger did bring in became leaders through playing with those payers…is it any wonder we haven’t won a single trophy since Vieria left the club and he spent 6 years playing with Tony Adams!! But the current squads haven’t had a Martin Keown in training to kick lumps out of them (i.e Henry we he first came).

Our current captain isn’t a leader, where’s the shouting and passion to gee up his team mates we’ve seen in others? Add to that he’s not even 1st choice!!

3. Transfer knowledge

His transfer dealings have been poor to say the least in recent times…there are too many sub par players to mention but here are some key points on his dealings.

1. Most of our big money moves have fallen flat..Arshavin and Ozil (to date) haven’t lived up to their price tags

2. Players seem to take 3-4 times longer to develop. Anelka took half a season; Henry was prolific by February/March of his first season. We do have players like Ramsey, Kos, that with patience become quality but while we wait that long we lost other top players.

3. Other clubs have copied us so we’re not only competing with other top teams with money but also the lesser known players that we would always get (i.e. Cabeye for 5M, Loric Remy 6M) we can’t get but other clubs are more aggressively in for them with real effort put into scouting them.

4. Wenger also lost his touch (or not tried as much) at rejuvenating player’s careers. Overmars, Kanu, Bergkamp became stars again under even Sol took on another level under Wenger.

5. The fact we no longer really fear players leaving the club in the summer tells you the current quality in the squad, Wenger isn’t making the same superstars anymore.

IN CONCLUSION…the arguments for Wengers decline and giving him more time have typically centered on the lack of funds, which does appear to have some merit, but in reality Wenger just isn’t special any more. He revolutionized the club when he arrived with his dietary reforms and extensive scouting network and although he still has talents I don’t think he offers us anything special anymore. Brining in someone new would be a gamble but one I think we should finally take.

What other industry would pay someone (at times) the highest wage just because you had success with them 9 years ago?? Would a Movie studio still pay an actor $20M a movie if they hadn’t had a hit in 9 years. Add to that the fans frustrations having to pay some of the highest ticket prices in world football for a team that has become an expert in failing. Not to milk the use of analogies but it’d be like paying the most expensive restaurant prices for the 3rd / 4th best food in London year after year.

Just because we want Wenger to leave doesn’t mean we have so easily forgotten all he’s done for us but his stubbornness to change and lack of ambition is reason for him to move on now  (i.e. was there really not 1 striker in the whole of the world we couldn’t have signed in January?!? Even Berbatov on loan would have shown some ambition). Was Kallstrom the only option in the market if so shouldn’t we improve the scouting network.

It also baffles me that Wenger doesn’t improve his back room staff, even Ferguson brought in big characters like Carlos Quierez for the sake of the team.

Liverpool and Everton’s success this season (add to that Diego Simeone at Athletico Madrid) has shattered the window of excuses Wenger has hidden behind and seeing our club go through the Groundhog day syndrome has dampened my enthusiasm for the team I love soo much and I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that way.

Transfer window slams shut

3 Sep


Despite some of the disappoint I still have about this Summer which I’ll touch on later you can only start to describe your emotions as an Arsenal fan right now, in this moment as over the moon with the arrival of Ozil!

We’ve smashed our January 2009 transfer record by almost 3 times and in that brought to the club a 24 year old who is unquestionable one of the best players in world football.

With that comes the proof that many (including myslef) have questioned which is our ability to still attract the very best and most have agreed arguably the Premier League signing of the summer.

However (and there must be some sense of a balanced view…we can’t be that angry with Wenger then that happy with just 1 signing). We needed to strengthen the club more than we did. Ozil will undoubtedly make us better but what help is his amazing assists stats if we only have 1 fit recognised striker. Perhaps Theo and Pod will be played more in their favoured position up top but with Pod out for another few months and Theo not fully proven there it seems a massive risk until we can add again in January. Look at how many strikers our rivals have!

Talk was Demba Ba was close but Chelsea pulled the plug last minute but there should have been a contingency plan.

Also we only have 7 defenders so we can only afford 3 players injured or suspended without facing a crisis. Can’t understand why we didn’t go for Sakho ?!?!

The other areas that needed strengthening before the window opened (which I’m ok with for now) are the GK and DM. Don’t know much about Viviano but he’ll undoubtedly put pressure on Szczescny to perform especially as a World Cup year for both.

Flamini wasn’t a player anyone asked for but the performance on Sunday gives hopes he can be a very useful squad player. 29 years old, experienced, seems in good shape as well

So the euphoria of Ozil is still buzzing and the prospect for a Santi-Ozil-Wilshere midfield on top form makes you drool with the idea of better times ahead but there’s still the nagging feeling we’re going to be stretched very thin and the need for some luck on the injury and suspension front is key.

Can’t wait for the Sunderland game, I know they’ll be highly motivated to beat us after a poor start to the season but we’re on a roll

A Draw Would Be A Great Result On Sunday

27 Feb


So both teams are on a run of 3 straight wins in the Premier League

Spurs played 5 games against the 4 teams around them

Won 1 / Drew 1 / and Lost 3 (4 points from 15)

Arsenal played 6 games against the 4 teams around them

Won 1 / Drew 1 / and Lost 4 (4 points from 18)

Spurs remaining “big” games….

Arsenal (H)

Chelsea (A)

Man City (H)…5TH Last game of the season

Arsenal remaining “big” games

Spurs (A)

Man Utd (H)…4TH Last game of the season

If Spurs did beat Man City that might mean Utd have won the title by the time they come to us the next week. And if they’re still in the F.A Cup or Champions League they might play a weakened team. Could definitely see Ferguson resting RVP if the title was wrapped up.

We haven’t won at White Hart Lane in 4 Premier league games (since 2007…since 2 defeats and 2 Draws).

So with all this I think a draw would be excellent, it keeps us in touching distance and although 4 points is still a lot there’d be 10 games and 30 points still up for grabs.

The Key Weaknesses

25 Feb

I’ve seen some recent posts defending Wenger and blaming the board for this barren period and obviously none of us regular fans know the exact truth.

From those who have been close to Wenger it seems he does have a lot of control over the clubs decisions (wages, amounts to spend on players, who to sell, etc…)

But regardless of blame there are key weaknesses to this team and if they’re not addressed we are in danger of slipping further off the pace.


What happened to one of the best scouting networks in the world? David Dein and Damian Commoli as negotiator and scout appear to be losses.

The landscape has changed since 1996, there are the mega rich clubs who can afford to have giant squads and when bidding on a player we want only help to inflate the prices.

Also, other “lesser” teams have copied us (i.e Newcastle) so all round we’re under far greater competition for those “bargain buys”

However I still don’t understand why we lose out on so many great buys (Michu, Kompany, Cabeye, etc)

Our percentage of successful transfers has greatly diminished whoever that is to blame and this is despite spending more money (Gervinho, Koscielny, Santos)


Now this you can’t blame the board for but conversely it’s never been Wengers strong suit. He doesn’t seem to pay much attention to our opposition opting to use the same format regardless of the circumstances. I can’t think of any other team other than maybe Barcelona that are so arrogant as to not factor in who they’re playing. That worked for us when we had one of the best teams in the country but not anymore.

Also how are there so many weaknesses in our play that have never really improved. We’re poor and scoring and defending set pieces. We don’t score many free kicks and most importantly how we defend, there’s no organistion to our back line and even if the quality of player is part of that reason the mistakes and errors they make must be blamed on the manager


I can’t take Wenger referencing this of the current team too much longer before I choke on my cornflakes.

It’s the thing this team as lacked the most, it almost seems like he’s being sarcastic now.

For example the recent run of horrible 1st half displays seems to be a mental block for the side, once we have a perceived issue it only seems to manifest and become an issue the players are ultra aware of so can’t avoid repeating. This also includes our ability to choke on the big occasion, we’ve had enough in the locker to make 4th but when it came to wining a knock out competition of the importance of 1-2 games is too much for us.

Again this is a failing of Wenger and his back room team needs to be blamed

Having a “Squad” has never been Wenger’s stong suit

24 Feb

Another unconvincing performance but at least there was 3 points gained to have some hope that we can achieve a top 4 finish.


What was highlighted again yesterday is that some players are clearly off form or not good enough yet due to excruciating lack of squad depth we are left to stick with them through this period. Where’s the pressure on these guys to improve their performance levels??


It’s frustrating because we (like all teams) had a chance to somewhat rectify this during the January transfer window but Wenger was holding out for “super, super quality”.



Has been poor since the end of last season, a horrific Euro 2012 (in his home country) and continued into 2012-13. Aside from Sunderland away he’s been possibly our most underperforming player. But who to replace him with? Mannone, Fabianski? Is this all we have to call on. Surely there’s a steady experienced goalie available on the cheap who’d jump at the chance to be here?? Man Utd have Lindergaard, Spurs have Fridel



The captaincy might be partly to blame but truth be told he’s been poor for a while. A stellar first season including goals and fine defensive displays made us hopeful of the future yet several injury plagued seasons later he’s regressed to a clumsy, indescsive defender. Ask yourself honestly when was the last time he played  really well? IMO it was Everton away last year



Aside from the recent week where he got 5 goals he’s been really off form. I know Wenger was rumored to be keen on David Villa but surely there must have been other options. Theo and Podolski are alternatives as well but it seems insane to not have another recognized striker. In his last 10 league starts he’s failed to score in 7 games!!


About 18 months ago Arsenal opened a new Medical Centre after touring the world and other sports to find best ideas and methods out there.


And to be fair our injury record has been far improved ever since…unfortunately/fortunately it helped the injury cursed RVP but also many others. There will always be the Diaby, Rosicky, Sagna issues but other than that we’ve actually done really well on the injury front this season.  Out first 11 have played in 78% of our games compare that to the unbeaten season which was 88%.


So going back to the squad issue Wenger typically relies more on having a solid 11-13 players and this season those players have just not been good enough.


However, even when we did stick to a core group of players in successful seasons we still had the likes of Wiltord, Kanu, Edu, etc for extra depth. I think even the less talented players were coming into a much, much better team and therefore able to perform to a higher level (Chris Wreh, Manninger, Grimandi, etc)


Some might bring up finances as the issue and the inability to spend money on fringe players however although there are examples of teams with benches costing more than most Premier League first teams, there are plenty examples of excellent affordable squad players on their books as well.


This summer we need some major reinforcements who are top quality but in addition we need some reliable, effective squad players who aren’t going to break the bank but will provide competition and the ability to rest players when needed.

 What might help with that is giving some of these upcoming youngsters more of a crack!! Why hasn’t Eisfeld been on the bench, or given a shot in the cup games?

Why isn’t Wenger held accountable for this squad?!?!

20 Feb
We all appreciate we can’t, don’t, won’t spend as the mega rich clubs but why isn’t Wenger held more accountable for this squad??

We have a dearth of players on loan seemingly as no one will actually buy them probably becuase they are disgustingly overpaid (Denilson, Chamakh, Park, Bendtner, Djourou, Santos)
Apart from Jack who was the last player to have successful loan spell and come into the side? Cole at Palace?

There is no faith in them and they have little to no confidence (Arshavin, Squillaci) what’s the point? Just a waste of wages and squad space

Gervinho 10M
Kos 10M, Vermaelen 11M (How many CB’s in the league were over 10M???)
AOC 12M – Maybe harsh and I really hope he makes it but we should expect more for a player with that value

Diaby and Rosicky on from are EXCELLENT players but far too injury pronne to rely on , Thomas at least doesn’t take as long to get back to form but Diaby on top of missing a ton of games takes many games to regain his form

We had high hopes for Ramsey and he has improved slightly but still not good enough to challenge
I like Coquelin but again not enough to be counted upon
Szezcesny is young for a GK but his arrogance seems too much of a hindrance

I’ve saved judgement for the new players

Mertersaker and Arteta are good “squad” players

So you’re left with??? Jack, Sagna?, Theo, Gibbs

What has finishing in the CL spots gained us?

19 Feb


A question posed from one fan to another is would you take 5th and a cup or 4th and no cup??

Wenger has been critised for 8 years and no trophies but has argued that getting Champions League is like a trophy.

I’ve started to wonder what is the real benefit to a 4th placed finish, the obvious benefits are..

1. The money…winning it can lead to 40M+ but even a successful group stage can lead to 10M+

2. More chance to retain your top talent

3. More chance to compete and sign quality new players

4. And obviously the chance to win such a prestigious cup, one we’ve failed to ever win

So I looked back over 8 seasons (counting this) to judge what benefit we’ve gained on those points.


The money only seems to have line the pockets of the clubs directors, the money on transfers has been generated from selling other players


Every season we’ve lost top talent

2005-06 – Veira

2006-07 – Cole

2007-08 – Henry (I know he was old but he still had a lot to offer)

2008-09 – Hleb & Flamini

2009-10 – Ade & Toure

2011-12 – Cesc, Nasri, Clichy

2012-13 – RVP, Song


The players we have brought in haven’t been superstars and more often than not none of the other big clubs were in for them.

Now we’re finding that despite Champions League we still aren’t competing even with teams that don’t have it (Vertonghen and Holtby both “supposedly” chose Spurs over us)

I think Podolski and Santi Carzola might have only come for Champions League football but undoubtley there have been better or similar signings who went to teams without Champions League football over the years (Suarez, Michu, Ba, etc)


Aside from 2005-06 how close have we really come to wining the CL?

2006-07 we finished level on points with Liverpool but they made it to another final

2011-12 we finished above Chelsea and they still won the competition.

We all enjoy the big games but we always get knocked out so where’s the point of the competition if we cant win it and don’t improve season over season

Aside from these points I realize finishing outside of the CL will make things tougher but we don’t appear to be making the most of qualifying each year.

How different with things have been if we’d have won a couple of F.A. Cups in those 8 years and finished 5th those seasons?

Maybe we would have lost an extra player, maybe signed one less player but would the club be much different than we are now??


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