Arsene Talks Defence But When Will He Act!?

In his press conference before the Blackburn game Arsene was talking about our defensive weaknesses and how the goals we have conceded hurt our title chances.

If you assess our situation, going forwards we have been very, very efficient – our goal scoring rate is very good.

Where we want to set ourselves a target next season is we have conceded nearly 40 goals – that is too many to win the championship and is where we want to improve.

Sounds familiar doesn’t it. At the end of last season and beginning of this season Le Boss was talking about how we’d conceded 37 last year and that was too many for a side aspiring to win the League. A cursory Google search took me to an article published by the Arsenal Dotcom on 22nd October last year. Here is what Arsene said at the Annual General Meeting,

I believe we will have to see at the end of the season. But we conceded too many goals last year and we decided to rectify our defence and the system we play.
I believe that by the end of this season we will have conceded less goals but somewhere as well we encourage the team to go for an offensive game and sometimes we pay the price for that a little bit.

Curiously enough, the title of that article was “We will concede fewer goals this season.” Something’s clearly not right. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the “buy, buy, buy!” type of fan. Regular readers know that I try to be honest in praise as well as criticism. The way Arsene has managed the defence this year deserves a fair bit of criticism.

One thing is obvious – Arsene knows what the problems are. Some fans are of the opinion that Le Boss is blind to our weaknesses but I find that hard to believe. The next logical question is, if he knows what’s wrong why doesn’t he sort it out?

The crux of the matter is in that question. Supporters of Arsene, including myself, tend to believe that he has tried solving it but it’s not worked out. Injuries are obviously a big reason for our problems. The critics point out, and it’s a fair point, that injuries can be a reason but they cannot be a valid excuse.

If we really want to get to the bottom of this, we must cut out the superlatives and hyperbole. If we take a stance that Arsene is perfect and doesn’t make mistakes then even the great man himself might laugh at us. I’m sure he will be the first to accept that he’s made a few errors of judgement this year. At the same time, if someone ignores his work and achievements and starts saying Wenger has no clue and we cannot win with him in charge then it becomes impossible to take such a critic seriously.

As with every important aspect of life, the truth is always in a grey area somewhere in between. I feel management decisions in any field are largely percentage calls. It’s not an exact science and the decision maker has to factor in many unknowns and variables. In hindsight, it’s much easier as we know how these variables pan out.

For instance, at the beginning of the season we had Senderos. He might have been training well and the manager might have had some hopes of getting a few games out of him. For some reason it didn’t work out and we ended up with a name in the squad but with very little contribution on the field. The net result being no rotation or rest for Gallas and Vermaelen and we can all see the consequences of that.

Similarly, in January Arsene signed Campbell. The big man has done really well and it’s hard to criticize the decision of signing him. Still, Le Boss himself said he didn’t expect Sol to play so many games. He also said Sol can’t play twice in three days. He did play against Tottenham and Wigan but that’s not the same as playing against Barcelona, is it? And who can say whether or not we conceded a couple of late goals because Sol was tired?

The point here is that signing Sol and no one else eventually ended up as a handicap. We were forced to risk Gallas against Barca. It’s impossible to measure the impact of the forced substitution and the goals we conceded due to Song’s mistakes in an unfamiliar role and his absence from a crucial position even though Denilson did a good job in that game.

Should we have signed a proper, fully fit, young Centre Back who could have played every game if necessary? Should we have signed Sol and another backup defensive midfielder? Looking back it’s easy to say we should have. It’s quite possible that Arsene tried but didn’t find the right player. Let’s not forget it’s not easy to step into a top Premier League team and perform from day one.

I think Arsene took a percentage call that Campbell will be used sparingly and we will get by without any serious problems. He might have based his assumption on medical opinions and objective analysis. As it turns out he got it wrong by a long way.

Essentially, it’s a question of whether you want to err on the side of caution and sign an extra player or whether you want to be cautious with the finances and not risk an overpriced signing who might not adapt to the league and perform as expected. Wenger chose financial prudence and we paid a heavy price for it in the Premiership and the Champions League. I think our finances have improved in the last few months with good news on the property front. Hopefully now, Arsene will not repeat the same mistake once again.

15 Responses to Arsene Talks Defence But When Will He Act!?

  1. munala says:

    its true arsene sees what needs 2 be done, does it n then there comes the injuries.
    We lacked a dm when song played cb/injuredn a partner 4 sol when verm got injured.
    We need 2 asses da injuries; chelski had 2 sack part/whole of its medical team just bkoz of 2 injuries.
    Our medical team is da biggest problem.

  2. sil007 says:

    Minimal signing required : 1 GK, 1 CB , and 1 DM to cover song, and we will go far next season.

  3. nicky says:

    re. sil007
    You are right but AW seems reluctant to act for two reasons
    (1)New experienced signings would deter the progress of up and coming youngsters already on the Club’s books
    (2)Behind the scenes, he simply hasn’t the funds we all think he has and is soldiering on as best he can.

    • desigunner says:

      I do agree with you about the lack of funds. The thing is, and I’ve said this before, we might have $ 30-40 Mil to spend but we can’t really afford to waste it.

      United could waste 30 mil on berbatov and 18 or so on Anderson, Chelsea could do it on Shevchenko and others but we cannot really make mistakes with our signings and that makes AW a lot more cautious.

  4. nicky says:

    In my comment, I omitted to insert OR after the word “books” in paragraph (1) Sorry!

  5. Guys, I do not trust Arsene Wenger because he talks big but will not do the right thing by strenghten the defense. Regardless of Gallas staying or not, it is imperative to strenghten the defense to standing any chances of winning anything next yesr. Guys, don’t believe anything you read in the paper because the gaffer Arsene Wenget will not strenghten the squad. If the gaffer will count on Almunia & Fabianski for next season then gooners, we should say goodbye the title for many years to come.

  6. gunner4life says:

    v shud have held back senderos as cover for the centre backs. he was quite good until he lost & bolted for AC milan.

  7. vijay says:

    Apart from Chamakh we’re getting one other signing.

    Unless Gallas goes and we replace him.

    That’s what AW has said.

    Fantasize all you like. This is all that’s going to happen.

    The only speculation left is whether the second signing is a goalkeeper or a central defender. Though, there’s every possibility it could be neither and AW comes back and says there’s just not the right person out there.

    Go figure.

  8. arvind says:

    I bet he only gets chamakh. no one else.

  9. Jimi says:

    Desi,have a look at wot i write and tell me wot u feel

    A part of me thinks that it was a sense of deja-vu when Barca was beaten by Inter the same way Arsenal has lost to teams who so called ‘park the bus’. Again the calls for no required plan B, when infact Barca has ‘plan B’ in the form of Ibrahimovic. But then again, what is really ‘plan B’? If Barca was playing Ibrahimovic from the start of the game, isn’t that already resembling plan B, where most so called experts claim that this plan means either hoofing the ball to the tallest front-man, crossing it to him, or taking pot-shots from outside the box. I find this idea to be totally rubbish because there is no such thing as plan B, heck or even plan A for that matter. If Bojan who is an average of 5 feet something planted that header against Inter, would these so called mongrels be referring to a thing such as plan B and whatnots? I seriously suggest not.

    To me, it doesnt matter what plan you play in football, the only plan is to WIN, and that being at any cost. It goes for every competition, every sport, practically everything in life revolves around being successful, and ie meaning to win. I dont care what any so call fans says that we have the best financial model in the country, the so called best manager one could have in this present times, and how we should be grateful for everything we have accomplished thus far, because without winning, all that counts for nothing. Call me a glory hunter, go ahead and ask me to support another team which is probably the only replies one might get for saying such things as a fan, but if one can be so oblivious to the reality of the world, I feel sorry for them.

    As much as I despise Mourinho’s flamboyance as a person, he is someone EVERY single person strives to emulate in this modern time. An ego so indefatigable. an arrogance which is so exuberant and the ability to stare at any obstacle at its face. And another thing, the ability to instil such characteristics to his players. We saw it during his time with Porto, with Chelski and now with Inter. When he came to inter, he didnt actually splash the cash in abundance or made a major overhaul to the team (as always claimed needed by the fat spanish waiter called Rafa the idiot). What he did was take certain rejects from some teams, ie Etoo, Pandev and Sniedjer who though had much football left in them in a certain sense, Im sure his primary scouting was learning about their temperament and personality before signing them. He has taken their abilities and instilled his own into them which when you see them play, its like they would even die for him and for the cause. He defends his players when necessary, but he doesn’t think twice about slating them in public either eg Balotelli ( something Wenger doesnt do which he should have with Denilson, Diaby and so many more)

    The question is, how does he do it? In a world where player power has almost overwritten the importance of the manager himself at times, he still manages to show who is boss. This is something Wenger and every other manager could take a leaf from. Yes some may say that is not Wenger’s style and he likes doing things in public, but if your intentions are good, i dont see why the change cant be adopted. Sometimes one doesnt need to look too far across the shores to see how this is done, when Fergie is the closest example. Can we dare say that this could backfire, for the fact we are seeing these 2 blokes practically winning everything before our eyes?

    Inevitably, this comes down to the posting made by Chris and commented by me not too long ago in regards to mentality. Im saying this because no matter how many signings we make, whether they are regarded as world-class or not ( which i seriously believe class has long gone from the game), will not matter because as long as the mentality, and that being from the top downwards, right to shaping of the winning mentality to the players, we will NEVER be a winning team and yes I said it, NEVER. I once mentioned how disgruntled Wenger looks on the bench when his team are a goal down in a game or let alone even leading a game for that matter. That is not a sign of a confident, winning manager. Do you see Mourinho shaking in his boots during matches? NO

    • desigunner says:

      I don’t agree that the Only plan is to win. It’s a meaningless simplification. Tell that to Portsmouth fans who WON the FA Cup. You lose the argument the moment you make such a simplification.

      I am one person who just cannot tolerate Mourinho and don’t wish to emulate him at all. So your claim about EVERY person goes out of the window and I’m sure there are many who don’t care about Mourinho. Contrary to your assumption, he has spent a lot of money at Inter. Would be worthwhile checking the facts. And in spite of spending hundreds of millions at Chelsea and Inter his teams are the most boring in top level football. Even Abramovic doesn’t like him even though he WON the league titles and that itself is a good perspective on your simplification.

      The article on mentality was one of the dumbest I’ve seen. There was another article that responded to it in a perfect manner so I don’t need to say much more.

      As long as people refuse to acknowledge the complications involved and talk only about winning and losing trophies, there isn’t any value to the discussion.

      Arsenal have problems and Arsene makes mistakes. No honest fan denies that but the discussion has to be factual and objective. Not based on random simplified arguments about who has or hasn’t won.

      • arvind says:


        I think there is some merit to the post. I think the point is basically the style of the manager and how the current style does not encourage a winning mentality. He points out styles of rival coaches. It is not to say that AW has a bad style in my opinion but may be should look at some of his peers for a change of tactic or style. I have mentioned that AW Is more of a teacher… the prof he is called. HE is idealistic and does things by his philosophy. He strikes me as being a great youth coach. I wonder about this youth experiement her undertook for so long with no effect whatsoever and I do think that a lot of arsenal fans wonder after 5 years there is nothing to show for it. If I have to add anything, then i would have to agree that a more aggressive approach of accountaliblity of his players and himself is what is needed at the club. THis means being honest with what is happening right in front of him and if that means saying things that hurt or are the truth so be it. excuses have a short time limit and I think most of us fans are tired of it. To play for arsenal is not a right but a priviledge and he needs to remind his players that if the performance is not there then ther will be consequences. That goes for all involved.

      • desigunner says:

        I think Style, Tactics and Mentality are three independent issues.

        Just for instance, Bojan scored a perfectly legal goal that was disallowed at the Camp Nou. He also missed a sitter. That means without any major changes the scoreline could have been 3-0 to Barca. Would it suddenly make Mourinho’s tactics bad? Would it make Arsene any better if Inter had lost 3-0 at the Nou Camp?

        I think a mistake that some fans make is that they are influenced by results while analyzing a game or a season. It’s a fundamental mistake. How often have you heard Arsene saying that he needs to take distance before analyzing? It’s very important to do that. The moment we give in to the results our analysis is already biased.

        Arsene is a genius. He’s worked with some top class players and worked with them at different ages. Whether it’s a 36 year old Sol Campbell or a 16 year old Fabregas he knows how to get the best out of them. It would be extremely unfair to label him as a youth coach.

        Criticizing the players in public and other such things are gimmicks. They don’t really make a huge difference in a positive sense. Here you could say it’s just a matter of style and one style isn’t proven to be more beneficial than the other. Let’s not forget Mourinho for all his tactics and style didn’t win the one trophy Abramovic threw the bank at.

        Arsene works under a lot more limitations than the others. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t make mistakes. But we cannot ignore the complexities involved and start questioning things like Mentality in a man who has won more in life than most of us put together.

  10. Phil23 says:

    I supported him when he only signed Campbell. If he only makes 2-3 signings I will be the first to moan. It is obvious we need 5 signings if we are serious about being the best team in England and the Premiership. We only need 2 starters in a goal keeper and a Center right back (I wouldn’t moan if Djourou was promoted to starter but would expect a back up to be signed) We need cover for Center left back. We need very good cover for Song as not only do we know he will leave in Jan but we need the option to play 2 defensive midfielders against teams like Barca, United and Chelsea. Lastly, Chamakh. (thats all i’ll say ab

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