Friday 31 December 2010

Wenger's bias and the misfits

Having had time to reflect upon the late dropping of two valuable points at Wigan, a few things have become clearer and I think there are some painful home truths that can no longer be ignored. Before I vent some steam I should make it clear that I am a big fan of Arsene Wenger and would not want anyone else managing our club. However this does not mean Arsene does not make mistakes and sometimes no matter how great you are, you must appreciate where you are going wrong to change direction for the better.

Our defensive solidity has been sadly lacking this season. We have conceded too many goals, a lot of these have been from set pieces and we have let some big leads slip. There are several reasons for this and one Arsene recently openly admitted was the lack of leadership at the centre of our defence. The prolonged absence of Mr Vermaelen has been a problem, he is one of our more motivating and vocal players, while the combination of Koscielyn and Squillaci has not been convincing. The goalkeeping position has also been a huge problem area, although Fabianski has improved, many still doubt his ability to command the penalty box.

A big problem related to a lot that has gone wrong is Arsene's stubbornness and the fact that he gives certain special players many more chances than others. Lucasz Fabianski would have been shipped out of many clubs by now, although we have seen how Arsene's faith has been rewarded by his recent improved showings, it is very questionable as to whether Fabianski will ever be good enough to be our long term no1 keeper who can bring us trophies. Personally I can only see Fabianski going so far, and it is hopefully only a matter of time before Szczesny takes his place as our no1 goalkeeper.

Johan Djourou has been impressive all season long but it has taken him a remarkably long time to cement himself in as a potential first choice player. After yet another excellent display against Chelsea he must surely be considered our best fit centre back, it is rather strange that it has taken him this long given his performances, maybe part of it has been that his return has been graduated due to his prolonged absence with the knee injury. The lack of a commanding centre back against Wigan clearly played its part in our late capitulation.

The midfield has been the main problem area for a very long time now. Essentially we have lost a lot of excellent combative players over a relatively short time frame (Gilberto, Flamini, Diarra) and never properly replaced them. We now have a squad with a lot of attacking technical midfielders but very very few players who can run around and get stuck in. Against Chelsea we saw the importance of the bustling and fighting midfield play of Song and Wilshere, you simply must have players doing the harrying and the pressing, you also need players who will not be beaten easily and who will keep chasing back no matter what.

We are ok when both Song and Wilshere play, the problem comes when either one of them or both are not in the side. Their replacements are simply not up to the task. Denilson is a decent all rounder, not bad at anything but not really good enough at anything either, certainly his defensive game is nowhere near good enough to play as a deep midfielder. Diaby is an enigma, a great talent but he has no natural instinct for defending or pressing, he lacks the tempo and drive to be a defensive midfielder that can be relied upon, really he is an attacking central midfielder, the problem is that he is not as good as Cesc and is very rarely played in his proper role. The rest of our midfielders are just attacking players like Nasri, Cesc, Arshavin, Walcott and Rosicky. Ramsey is a good all rounder and when fit can add a bit more drive than the likes of Denilson and Diaby, Frimpong's cruciate was also an unfortunate one at a bad time.

Overall I do think that Arsene has a special place in his heart for Denilson and Diaby, and somehow I have a sneaking feel that their performances haven't really justified his faith in them. The same is probably also true for Carlos Vela but that's another story. The problem is that Arsene's slightly blind faith has left us painfully short of balls in the midfield department and this was obvious against Wigan on Wednesday night. Realistically we should have brought in a solid midfielder in the summer, we knew Frimpong was out for the season, we knew Ramsey would be gone for months and we knew that neither Denilson or Diaby can defend reliably. A lot of focus has been put on the 8 changes from the Chelsea to the Wigan game, personally it wasn't the '8' that was important, it was the fact that we had no solid midfielders to come into the mix for Song and Wilshere. Arguably we could have done with a Fabrice Muambe type on Wednesday night, one that Arsene may well end up regretting he let slip.

There are so many problems with our defense that it is hard to address them all at once, that's my excuse for waffling on like this anyway. What is clear though is the fact that Arsene Wenger needs to stand up and take notice of the fact that our defence is not up to it, he has to do something about it. Certainly an element of this must be done with more time spent drilling the defence on the training ground, another big element is adjusting the playing staff in the squad so that we have the right mix of attributes in order to be able to put out an organised defensive unit with a midfield that can sheild it adequately. Arsene needs to work hard on the defence, if he doesn't we'll be seeing more defensive capitulations like Wednesday's.


Anonymous said...

Wenger is a disgrace, no pressure to succeed.
He gets paid 6mil a year to do half a job (not defending). That alone are grounds for dismissal

Anonymous said...

You must be referring to Capello mate. Arsenal dont pay anyone 6mil.

In any case, it is easy to be wise after the event. That team was good enough to beat Wigan with application and focus. They screwed-up, both defence (obviously) and attack for failing to score enough goals. As for Wenger, he's not perfect.. we've know that for what!

We've seen Fergie's team drop several points in the last minute of matches this season. We've also seen chelski win only 1 match in 6! Hell... we a sulking Mourinho (no less) tali between legs as his team were gobbed 5-0 by barcelona.

Big deal... sh*t happens...get a life!

1979gooner said...


he is no disgrace, he makes mistakes and hopefully he can learn from them


the point i am trying to make is that the personnel who came in vs wigan were not good enough in defensive terms

it's not about conceding a last minute goal as a one off

this is a persistent problem that keeps recurring, it cannot be ignored

we need to get better defenively and i feel a big part of that could be achieved by replacing fabianski, playing djourou more often and having more depth in terms of combative midfielders

Anonymous said...

wenger does get 6m a year...probably gets a percentage of the massive profits we make aswell

Anonymous said...

making mistakes alone isn't disgraceful but refusing to acknowledge or recognise them indeed is shameful, with or without the 6m (some huge number in any case)...also those fans who have blind faith and happy to go along with it are in the same bucket too

wenger is paid CEO level salary in the corporate world, and no amount of past successes a CEO has could spare the sack if he/ she hasn't perform (eg the corporate has had poor results) for 5 years! that's reality unless arsenal's board comes out and dare say wenger does not need to perform on the footballing side and in fact, winning should be his only agenda! ivan and his expensive and rather new collection of CFO, etc should take care of the money side... how about signing some creative and sizable commercial deals to start with??

no senior folks seem to be really measured in arsenal so long as money in the banks keeps growing, and that's the crux of the problems many loyal fans and supporters around the world are taking issues with

davem said...

Dont totally agree with the post, once Wilshere replaced diaby we looked alot more solid in the midfield and bossed the game, their equaliser come from a corner, which is the real problem.

Set pieces and not our overall defensive play is at fault.

davem said...

you guys really need to read Arsènal the making of a modern superclub if you want to bang on about wenger in this way and actually realise what he has done for our mighty club.

If we talk about him in CEO terms I can assure you he would not be removed in anyother company.

Read the book see his value, and btw it talks about his and the boards mistakes too, so im sure that will keep you lot happy.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with davem. These AMO (Arsene must go) guys just mouth the same words--AMO, Arsene is a disgrace--whenever Arsenal did not win a game. I don't understand their psychology--they won't rest until Arsene leaves the Arsenal. They are just like robots.

weedonald said...

you arseholes criticizing this and that about Wenger and his team should realize and appreciate the following:

1) In the last 5 years the Gunners have never been out of the top 4 and finished 2nd other low-spending teams have done that on such a small budget.
2)for the last 11 years Arsenal have made it to at least the quarter-finals in the CL and to the final once,again on a very average budget.
3)They built a superb stadium and are still in the top other team has managed to do that and in fact, those who built new stadia were relegated.
4)Any EPL team, with the exception of Manure and maybe Tottenham would give their right arms to have Wenger as their manager.
5)Wenger and the Board have developed the strongest,most financially viable and most superb Football playing team in the EPL and possibly in Europe, aside from Barca.
6)Real,Man.Shitty and Barca have spent 100's of millions of Euro on world-class players and then stockpile them on the bench. Arsenal develop their own players from their reserves and youth academy like Barca do.
7)Wenger actually earns about 1.4 m per year and has no other revenue, at least reported by him. he does get a bonus for trophies and titles but that is unknown.
8)If Wenger ever left, it would be to coach Real (he was their first choice ahead of Mourinho)and Arsenal would sink into mid-table irrelevance faster than the Titanic.

You losers don't appreciate what he's done and is STILL doing for the Arsenal. Our so-called defensive problems are actually just two positions: Fab in goal and Squillaci in CB. Put Sczensy in nets and keep Djourou in as CB and you'll see a difference when Cesc plays.

1979gooner said...

I think those of you who come here saying that wenger is being slagged off are missing the point.

I am a big wenger fan. However he has made clear errors as regards gk/cb/dm.

To deny we have defensive failings is absurd.

I want arsene to address these issues and then win something.

I do agree that some people have made some very stupid comments insulting arsene above.

Anonymous said...

Firstly I do not want Wenger to go. I think he has been devoted to the club.
However I hope he can find the humility to correct his mistakes, instead of sweeping under the rug & blame the sky & the moon. Even great leaders know that they do not know everything, so for the sake of the club I wish Wenger will swallow his personal pride & do what's right.
I understand Diaby, Denilson & Flapanski are his puppies, but they must not play. Their physical sloth & mental dullness, if rewarded with playing time, will spread thru the team like a disease, & I feel it has already begun.
In the real world, if u suck, u get replaced. It should be that simple. Rewarding incompetence will only breed contempt & ultimately collapse.
Mental strength, as Wenger likes to use, is a virtue that only winners have. In this current team there's barely a handful with that attitude.

Anonymous said...

Arsene thinks the whole world is against him and therefore he wants to prove them wrong by not willing to change his attitude. He thinks his team plays a far superior game to anyone. How could he field Eboue, Squid, Denilson, Diaby, Rosicky, Chamakh, Bendy to beat Wigan? It only tells me two thing. Either Arsene has grossly underestimated Wigan, or he has ignored the twists and turns that come together in a footy match. So, when we lose, he goes about blaming everyone.

Anonymous said...

Wenger was stubborn here in the wigan game... Kos and Squillaci never can play together and it was obvious Djourou should play after a gr8 performance. But I dont get the notion that they did not battle it out, they did and i was pleased they did. The pressing off the ball was fast and efficient, the only prob is that the centre back is the weakest position. Any team look like scoring when these two play!

Anonymous said...

A lot of what you have said I agree with. We have had defensive weaknesses in this team for years. Yet we expect to be able to sign quality without having to pay for it.
Playing 3 tough games in a week necessitates rotation. Wigan are a strong side at home- and it was a disappointing result. But lets be clear this result also had a lot to do with the referee- Wigan were gifted a penalty and we were denied an obvious one. I do not know if it is corruption or incompetence, but English referees do seem to be consistently very generous to our opponents.