Do Arsenal Really Lack A Winning Mentality?

In the last couple of seasons I’ve lost count of the number of times people have come up with the statement, “Arsenal don’t have a winning mentality”. I’ve also seen plenty of variations, some say Wenger doesn’t have the winning mentality, another would say Wenger can’t instil the winning mentality into the players, and so on.

Not a single writer who makes these kinds of claims has ever described what ‘winning mentality’ is or why he is better qualified to comment on that rather than Arsene or the Arsenal players. But we do see random connections – X, Y, or Z doesn’t track back ergo he doesn’t have a winning mentality, Arsene has no tactical knowledge hence he doesn’t have a winning mentality, Wenger doesn’t make the right substitutions so he doesn’t have a winning mentality, Wenger doesn’t spend big therefore he doesn’t have a winning mentality – and so it goes. Of course, those are not the exact words, I couldn’t care enough to remember the exact words, but you get the idea.

Most of the times it’s just another way of making the same point, Arsenal haven’t won anything in five years and need to buy big. These writers rarely give any insight into what could improve the winning mentality except buying “big names”. Often in the same argument they criticize Arshavin – our biggest signing and an experienced international – for not having the winning mentality because he doesn’t work hard defensively.

The way I see it, Arsenal won 23 games in the League last year and were in the top 8 in Europe. If Arsenal don’t have a winning mentality what does it say about the 17 other clubs in the premiership? What does it say about all the clubs in the Championship and other lower leagues? Effectively out of the hundreds of professional footballers in England such a statement would imply only two clubs have players and managers with a winning mentality! A similar, somewhat broader, argument can be made about the whole of Europe. Do only 7 clubs in Europe have a winning mentality?

How can anyone be so disrespectful towards professionals who are amongst the best in their field? I could understand if someone like Fergie said Arsene doesn’t have a winning mentality. The Scot is clearly qualified to say that. And for that reason I’d love to hear what he has to say on this topic. The top managers know what it takes and they’ll never disrespect another professional with such meaningless criticism. Some might try that as a mind game but ask them honestly and the answer will always be respectful.

I found this interesting article that discusses the greatness of athletes. Towards the end of that article, there are some comments from Patrick Cohn, a sports psychologist. Cohn identifies four mental characteristics common to champions. Here are the excerpts,

Competitiveness: “This is someone who loves the heat of battle,” Cohn says. “They’re motivated by testing their skills against the next person. Obviously, they love to win and hate to lose. You need that. People might think, ‘Well, isn’t everyone competitive?’ The answer is ‘no.’ The really competitive person digs deeper than the next guy.

Confidence: “Self-confidence is probably the No. 1 mental skill that champion athletes possess,” Cohn says.

Composure: “This one has a couple of connotations,” Cohn says. “The first is: Can you keep it together under pressure at crunchtime? It’s the last minute of the game, and you’re trailing by three: It’s how well you can stay under control emotionally and can perform when you need to.

“The other component is how well you deal with mistakes. Can you stay composed and forget about them? Or do you get upset and frustrated and thrown off your game? Athletes who are composed don’t get rattled and compound one mistake into many.”

Focus: “The idea is to give focus and attention to what’s most important — and, when you do get distracted, to refocus quickly,” Cohn says. “This is the key component to success in sports such as gymnastics and diving, but it’s important in all sports.”

I don’t think we can doubt the competitiveness or confidence of anyone at Arsenal. I’d agree if someone questioned the composure and focus of some of our players. It’s not that we lose our composure or focus all the time, that way we’d have been relegated a long time ago, but there is certainly some room for improvement on that front.

Sometimes our players lose their composure or focus at a key moment. It happens. Still, most of the time we see them regain it quickly and they don’t let mistakes affect their performances that often.

I think on those two parameters Chelsea and perhaps United are better than us, at least Manchester Untied were better than us till last year but this year they’ve slipped from winning positions more often.

Even though I agree Chelsea are marginally better than us in this regard, last season Arsenal lost 15 points from a winning position whereas the Blues lost 16. In contrast, Arsenal won 13 points from a losing position while Chelsea won 15. It’s not a big difference either way and that’s the key point people need to appreciate. The gulf between the two sides, at least on a mental level, is not that big.

It’s easy to criticize when one or two results don’t go the way we’d like them to. Then when the team goes on a long run the same people will either be singing praises or keep away from the debate.

Unfortunately, the internet has given too many writers the power to use big words without really understanding them. I don’t have a problem with criticism. Unless we acknowledge our weaknesses (I like the term area of improvement) we cannot improve. But that doesn’t mean anyone is at liberty to make wild, irrational accusations. That to me is the worst form of loser mentality!


76 Responses to Do Arsenal Really Lack A Winning Mentality?

  1. forza forza says:

    rubbish,this lot do not have what it takes to win anything.

  2. nope , arsenal lack of winning ability .

  3. The true gooner says:

    What are you smoking,son?Even the tiny tots win some of their games,does it mean they have a winning mentality?Wenger is an overpaid egoistic prat who is only concerned about himself.Senile loser.

  4. IMRAN PALEKAR cape town says:

    People think Wenger is going senile…. If they say he doesn’t have A winning mentality, the question I pose to them is- Did Wenger have a winning mentality from 98-04 when we were arguabely the ‘best’ team in England?

    The fact is that Wenger has not lost his marbles. Before the invincibles it was decided that Highbury was to be replaced. At the same time of us moving to the Emirates, Abromovic bought over Chealsea. Then the Glazers bought United. Could this have been predicted to happen all at once. All our competitors had been bought over by sugar daddy’s while we were trying to pay off a long term asset.

    In my opinion, we have done extremely well over the past 5yrs taking in all factors mentioned above.

    If you gonna blame anybody, please Don’t blame Wenger.

    And if you want Arsenal to be bought over by some American or Russian- you will never understand the brand of Arsenal FC. Period!

    Look a bit into the future. Liverpool are no longer a threat. United is making losses. Chelsea is aging rapidly and Roman isn’t spending. Our only competition will be City in a few years time.

    Chins up. Keep the faith. VCC GUNNERS4LIFE!!!

    • desigunner says:

      Well said, Imran.

      • Furovich says:

        It’s actually so funny though hearing people try and come up with reasons to bad mouth Wenger. Ultimately, when someone tries to criticize such a brilliant man that has achieved so much in the game they end up looking so retarted. But they are funny, just like Spurs fans.

      • critic says:

        and the most funny thing is they are saying this b’coz wenger used to win so much that he spoiled such people…lolz

  5. IMRAN cape town says:

    If you like my comments Invite me on Facebook. I run the Arsenal Supporters Club in Cape Town…. IMRAN PALEKAR

  6. james says:

    Lets hold with the deception- a winning mentality is what kicks in when talent seems unable to find a way to get you wins. Other than a handful of our players, we are woeful in this respect; you talk about them having no problems with self-confidence and competitiveness when a bunch of our guys wilt whenever some obstacle come in their way, hence the absence of focus and composure.
    Most of them haven’t ‘fought’ to be in the team, a lot have relied on Wenger’s pampering and covering of them so its easy to see why a Wilshere, who left to Bolton, and even Song, who clocked time hustling for Charlton, seem to have fight in them while the others lack it.
    Lets be honest, most of these guys haven’t felt the euphoria of winning and they probably don’t feel as hurt when they lose opportunities to get that joy back. This squad doesn’t have anywhere enough people who’ve gone close to anywhere (as can be seen in the fact that only 1 or 2 were in the losing final side to Barca).
    Its a sad fact that ‘maybe’ the encouragement from winning a carling cup is what’s needed to kick these guys in the behind but thats why sometimes you need to inject that mentality from some outside experience.

    • desigunner says:

      I think all teams will have a few players who have a different level mentally. Those are always the big players. I don’t think any squad has 25 players, all with a killer mentality. Otherwise how do you explain Chelsea losing against Newcastle at home even though Newcastle also made 10 changes?

      Last season our players overcame the likes of Stoke despite the horrific event. We also won a number of games late on. The season before that the same players had beaten Chelsea and United who had pretty much the same squad. Mentality doesn’t change overnight.

      I’m afraid what you’re doing is getting carried away by a run of bad results without considering all the factors involved.

      From your comments about not fighting for a place, or Wenger covering for them it seems you’ve been affected by the negative propaganda. There are very few players in any of the big teams who have been playing under so much pressure at such an age. Despite that they’ve done quite well.

      The rest about “not felt the euphoria of winning” or “don’t feel hurt” is just speculation on your part and that is exactly what I meant by being disrespectful towards professionals who are at the highest level in their field. You really must establish your credentials before making such accusations.

      • Furovich says:

        I don’t think its fair to say say “Arsenal players don’t have a winning mentality” but with that said, Wenger has said several times this season that the squads biggest problem is that they haven’t yet experienced winning the championship and that belief is the only issue. The fact remains that they have to win the title before the players or anybody else considers them champions.

  7. Page says:

    Unfortunately have to agree with you, especially facing chelsea, comparatively we had less confidence in tackling, probably due to the fear of injuries, that goes back to the funderrment issue; is there a problem in our style of playing? With the amount of money involved in the game, managers & players alike have no choice but to adopt result-oriented style, by which a lot of players are back by their managers to play dirty. As a supporter, the choice is exclusively yours, everyone choose to support arsenal with different reasons. I appreciate the style they are playing, if we don’t get the result then face it. Wait for the next game and move on. I don’t think the trend of modern football would change in the near future, in the mean time just relax and enjoy the game. Cheers.

  8. The BearMan says:

    What Chelsea players have, that all our player have not yet possess is the belief that they are Champions. That inner strength and rooted ability, before even walking unto the pitch in knowing that you have already defeated your oponents. That it does not matter if you play your worst game, the other team scores the first four goals, you are going to still achieve the same result.

    Before the season even started properly, all the pundits and those in the football world were shouting out loud Chelsea were going to win again this season and Arsenal does not stand a chance. Before last week’s game even commenced, most people in the football world were saying Drogba was going to score against Arsenal and even though he looked like an old man for most of the game, guess what? He did.

    Arsene Wenger is correct in his evaluation of the recent clash – we did dominate most of the game and missed many opportunities of scoring, but what we did not have was one player one the pitch to break their heart and steal their courage. Worse of all our lads returned with their opponents placed on a high stool in their minds eye. Personally, I would not have started the game with Arshavin, Diaby and Wilshere. But given three absolute unknowns the chance for the first half and with these words: a) Do not loose the ball; b)break them down; c) At every opportunity run at them for they are old men. d) You have 45 mins to attack the spine of this team and make a name for yourselves. Then bring on Arshavin, Diaby, Wilshire or Rosicky the second half, with this thought: Finish them off.

    Our major problem is that we are becoming a little to predictable, so that we have always to be on our best game to destroy other teams. Do not get me wrong, the way we play is beautiful on the eyes, what we lack is a few players that creates fear the moment they touches the ball.

    • desigunner says:

      Can you explain why Chelsea haven’t won the Champions League in the last 6 years?

      • The BearMan says:

        They were a little unfortunate with a few decisions by the Ref: However, that is a hurdle we hope they do not cross, before us.

        Once you have beaten a team on a few occasions, everytime you play that team thereafter, you have an added advantage. The same applies in practically every sport.

        Having said that, take a good look at the actions of Sir Alex Fergie, he loves to attend the football match Arsenal plays before both teams meet. Should Arsenal play the same players, Fergie always come with a strategy. He only stays away if both teams are playing on the same day.

      • desigunner says:

        I agree if a team has a run of wins it gives them a little edge but that does not equate to a lack of winning mentality on one side and presence on the other.

        For six years Chelsea have been unfortunate with ref decisions? Seriously?

        I have no idea what you’re trying to say with the fergie example.

    • JK says:

      Perhaps you should be the manager then twat

  9. GunnerNick says:

    I think your article just proves that we have no composure and certainly lose focus far too often. We are already 7 points behind Chelski, we play teams like Sunderland after Knowing we could go top as Chelski had already lost – and yet again our team bottled it – fact – we have no winning attitude because our manager tells our players he is satisfied with 3rd or 4th every season – what sort of message is that to send out?

    • desigunner says:

      Did you watch the Sunderland – United game? So according to your theory even United don’t have a winning mentality and in the premiership Chelsea are the only team with that? Even City lost at Sunderland. So you’re saying after spending all the millions they didn’t get the winning mentality?

  10. mario indian gooner says:

    maybe u need to write an article about being a true arsenal fan so that these clowns above here know what it is to be a true supporter of the club rather than moan all week long like old women….i beleive that even if wenger buys the best of players these blokes still want be satisfied….as long as wenger is around were up there challenging after him i fear what would happen to this club

    • desigunner says:

      Unfortunately, it seems you’re right. People want big names and experienced players yet want to criticize someone like Arshavin. Ultimately, those who want to find problems will always do because unfair and excessive criticism doesn’t have to be rational.

      • ade says:

        true…alot of so called arsenal fans probably joined during the invicible era.
        take a look @tottenham, they have bn buying buying n buying but do they hv ur “winning attitude”
        alot of credit to arsene. he has done well with the young lads for the last 5years

  11. MSL says:

    Hmm I see you are writing articles pointed against me ;). Read your article later and tell me if it qualifies as a rant. I am sorry to say that I find the article a bit condescending too. For example, a winning mentality can be spotted by anyone not only Ferguson.

    Wenger is not a loser or anything, he is hell bent on winning but winning in his own way. He won’t have it anyway else. No he is not that hairdryer guy. Refer Lee Dixon’s article at The Independent website. Cannot get anymore authentic on that one.

    I have made most of the statements you have accused the “writers” of. I am not a billionaire or a superstar but when I see a winner I know one. Its a fairly subjective discussion so bear with me.

    I think ‘james’ above me has given the most articulate explanation.

    Peace out.

    Winning Mentality:

    Think of two players Rooney and Walcott. Who do you think wants to win the most? Both want to win and win badly. Rooney just wants it more. The hunger is there for everybody to see it. When he chases, runs , is petulant etc. Walcott may be a mellow guy off the pitch but he needs the aggression.

    I will quote you,”Sometimes our players lose their composure or focus at a key moment.” Arsenal last year won quite a few games in the dying moments. I like Bendtner more than anybody else for this. Nasri and Rosicky usually take a shot and try to do something on their own when things don’t work. I would definitely love more of that attitude. It may not work always but it keeps the anger up.

    I understand you are a romantic Arsenal fan (and I am a cynic who is very hard to convince) and it is my opinion that at times this blog get very defensive of Wenger and Arsenal. We love the club too and will question a few things ,rightly or wrongly, from time to time. Even though we are no SAFs. Its a sport fan blog, tempers will be high.

    As for the big name signings, they are not the answer. To me either you are a fighter or a cruiser. Arsenal sadly has few fighters.

    Solution? Start winning cups FA,Carling whatever to get the attitude set in.

    PS: I sometimes feel that this side expects to cruise like in Sunderland and WBA matches. It can lead to a bad first half but it took forever for us to get going even in the second half. Points like this which we must pick up make for a winning season. No one is gifting points so when you have a healthy enough squad champions make sure you pick them.

    • desigunner says:

      Lol, I’m sorry if it seems that way but I’m just covering topics that seem important.

      I don’t mean only Ferguson can spot the winning mentality. The point is only people who are at the same level can. The pressures at the highest level are unbelievable. Ordinary folks like me, and I’d say most supporters, barely manage to deal with our mundane lives. How are we to pass a judgment on those at the top and that too in the harshest of terms?

      You need to accept the personality of a person. If he doesn’t use the hairdryer then he doesn’t use it and he’s the best judge of that. After all Wenger did build the invincibles without that didn’t he?

      It’s interesting that you compare Rooney and Walcott. Why not compare their best player with our best, Cesc? Easy to be selective just to prove a point isn’t it? And Walcott is much younger and has suffered a lot more in terms of injuries but that makes it convenient for you. Watch how Nani has been over the last three years and compare him to Walcott.

      I hope you appreciate that on this site you can say what you want without it being changed or you being ridiculed. As I said, I don’t mind criticism but it has to be rational and not specious. If you see my article about the Sunderland game or the one on counters, I’ve been fairly critical of the team and the players. But I’ve also given genuine factual evidence to back it up.

      Anyway, I appreciate the discussion with you and others like you because you’re willing to give it some thought. Beyond that we can all have our opinions, we don’t need a consensus to be fans of the same team.

      • Davi says:

        I would have compared rooney to RVP. Robin is just a more intelligent version who still works extremely hard, get’s angry when we lose and is prone to the odd moment of petulance. He has often saved us with late goals as well. If it wasn’t for his ridiculous injury record he would have been such a great player for us.

      • MSL says:

        “I hope you appreciate that on this site you can say what you want without it being changed or you being ridiculed. ” Most definitely do.

        “I don’t mean only Ferguson can spot the winning mentality. The point is only people who are at the same level can. The pressures at the highest level are unbelievable. Ordinary folks like me, and I’d say most supporters, barely manage to deal with our mundane lives. How are we to pass a judgment on those at the top and that too in the harshest of terms? ” Still don’t get your drift. The pressures at that level are unbelievable for all clubs and managers. So, yeah, when you are not showing me that extra edge there, I will criticize.

        I know it was a rather easy example to pick. It is not about proving a point but rather the starkness between them. The spirit comes from a team not individuals. The cohesiveness of Chelsea and Man Utd is still lacking because we have a squad that hasn’t played much together.

        I don’t expect Wenger to grow a hairdryer but add someone who brings some aura. Yes, a big personality. Last year he signed Sol and now Pires is around. Motivational talk is quite important and if he doesn’t do it. Find someone who can.

      • desigunner says:

        I think pressure was not the right word, I wanted to say complexities at the highest level. In essence, we don’t know the key details of that job and most of the arguments we have against them are speculative in nature, often based on flawed assumptions.

        I don’t agree with your starkness argument at all. I’ve seen Nani, Berbatov, etc. on the pitch and they have the same body language/approach that some Arsenal players have. Similarly, Cesc, RvP and some others are just like Drogba or Rooney. First you talk about Rooney v Walcott then you move it to “cohesiveness of squad” because Rooney V Cesc doesn’t really hold!? Doesn’t seem consistent to me. I could say look at Cesc and look at Obertan, the starkness is striking!

        Interestingly, now you’ve equated hairdryer treatment to motivational talk. I think there is a big difference between the two which should not be ignored. In effect, you’re implying Wenger isn’t capable of motivating his players. Given his record in the top flight that seems like a baseless statement/assumption.

        You might also want to note that in his first two years Berbatov wasn’t very successful at United but Fergie never gave him the hairdryer. That’s because Fergie knew berbatov was trying his best. Sometimes the impression people get while watching is different but the players do genuinely try. Only the manager can judge this because he is really close to them everyday. This is where many fans go ballistic without really having a clue and that is why top level experience is so important.

        I only played cricket at college level but there were days when I really tried yet nothing worked. From the outside it might seem I was not doing anything but that would be far from the truth. Fans should at least have some evidence if they don’t want to give the benefit of the doubt to the players/manager.

        When the criticism gets overly harsh without real evidence it just reflects poorly on the fans, who in their ignorance don’t realize how wrong they are.

        You must have noted I often raise these questions in my match reports. Were the players focused? Did they work hard enough? and so on. So I don’t mind acknowledging the possibility and saying that it’s wrong if it happened. But assuming that it happened and going ballistic, then stretching the argument to say the squad doesn’t have the mentality or that the manager doesn’t have it, seems like a lame, desperate, and deliberate argument that is more down to frustration than to rational analysis.

      • MvSL says:

        Before calling me lame,desperate and deliberate did you even bother yourself with reading the Lee Dixon article?
        “Wenger is a very different coach to many. He’s not there in training saying “stand there”, “move there” “you’re in the wrong position”. He believes in his team learning from the players around them, learning to understand the way to play. His philosophy is to encourage players to pick it up for themselves. It is extremely effective with the right players, but the problem comes when players are not intelligent enough to understand. Does he have the talkers on the pitch, the leaders? Where are the Petits or Vieiras in this team? Cesc Fabregas is clearly a world-class player, but he is not that sort.”

        At least according to Dixon a large part of the team ethos were Graham’s legacy.

        “I went through one really bad season when I was certain I was going to be dropped but George Graham stuck with me. For him the power of the unit was bigger than the individual We learnt from scratch, day after day of doing the same thing. It was drilled in and it paid off. Wenger was then able to build on those solid foundations, adding the flair of Bergkamp, Henry, Pires, Overmars. He built another back four for the “Invincibles”, who only let in 26 goals. Campbell, Lauren, Cole had a steeliness about them. But it seems different now. Individually, they are good players – Thomas Vermaelen in particular, but there is no sense of a unit.”

        End of discussion. Remember discussion not just talking points.

      • desigunner says:

        It’s funny you’ve again conveniently ignored all the logical aspects of the discussion and had a rant on the words from one sentence.

        I read the article but I knew those things before reading the article. That’s Wenger’s style. It’s fundamental to what he does. Those who make a defensive team will dictate how players play because defense needs discipline and organization. Those who create an attacking team need creativity, individuality, and flair. It’s a shame you didn’t realize this earlier. Of course, there is a balance needed but at no point does Dixon say Wenger doesn’t build a sense of unit. In fact, he’s said Wenger wants his players to develop together. What he means by learning from each other is exactly the unit aspect. He doesn’t mean players have to learn passing technique from each other, but how they’ll move, how one will cover for the other, and so on.

        What Dixon said about Graham, plenty of players will say about Wenger. In fact, People blame Wenger for sticking by his players. Obviously, he believes in them and helps them improve. You think Song became better overnight because Wenger left him alone?

        Also do you realize that an argument can be lame and desperate without the person making the argument being lame and desperate?

        Anyway I’m not wasting more time on incoherent arguments based on fragments on information.

  12. Abdul CD says:

    I’m irritated by so call arsenal fans with dia way of thought.so irritated i dont wanna talk about dis issue but @ bear man: u will play who and not play who? Pls dont make me laugh….
    U’ll ve been the 1st 2 crucify arsene.

  13. samir nasri says:

    i always wonder if the pessimist’s have a favourite player to watch in this current arsenal side

    having one usually makes the game about a whole lot more than winning.

    i like a lot of the players in the this team and i’d like to see them win, but i can settle for watching the players grow into world class players. they won’t all just up and leave like fabregas may and others have

    most of you just need to grow up and think about things that are less immediate.

    to put your meaningless whining into perspective, there are many sportsfans the world over who have never seen their beloved sports club lift a major trophy, and they take more enjoyment out of the sport than a huge sector of arsenal fans, that’s pretty pathetic.

    for myself, samir nasri could be a huge part of the club. he’s only 23 and i’ve followed him from marseille, he’s captained both sides and i could see him taking over the creative role if cesc does leave.

    watching, supporting, and learning football should be our main objective unless there is something fundamentally wrong with the club

    • desigunner says:

      Thanks for sharing a fantastic perspective.

      I think the problem with most of the excessive whiners and insanely critical err… supporters is that they seem to have a self esteem problem connected with the performance of the club, hence the term Glory Hunters.

    • Ajinkya says:

      whenever we lose i think of hull city fans(or any other team that may come to my mind) and feel a lot better. they jump happily even if 5-0 becomes 5-1.

  14. MSL,

    No one critisizes Arsene like the so-called Arsenal fans. Yes, so-called!

    If you believe that Chelsea, Man U and others have stronger mentality, pray, what does it cost to jump ship? Get over to supporting the teams you blieve have the winning mentality then! Leave Arsenal for us. Probably people like me don’t have winning mentality. But take it from me, Arsene and Arsenal have far more winning mentality than their fans have supporting mentality.

    Yes, during transfers, one can whin, urge Arsene to buy this or that player. But once the transfer is over, then get behind your team. The best supporter is the one who stands by his team when they are down. Not one who praises to high heavens when we maul Blackpool but curses everything in sight when we fumble against WBA. Everyone fumbles. Ask ManU against Everton and Fulham; Chelsea against Newscastle in Carling Cup; Barca against Hercules!

    Support or ship out!

    • desigunner says:

      Tai,

      I don’t think MSL is being excessively critical or unreasonable so we should respect his right to his view. At least he has made a genuine attempt to make a point, unlike some others who can’t say a sentence without slagging Arsene, Arsenal, or the players.

    • MSL says:

      Please take your holier-than-thou piss elsewhere. Seen enough of this.

  15. 1979gooner says:

    hi desi,

    i agree, we’re not far off at all, but maybe one or two of our players do not have the right attitude,

    thought this may interest you on the hypocrites at the FA

    http://tiny.cc/sa184

    • desigunner says:

      I agree all the players are not at the same level but I think the same can be said for other teams as well.

      Great article, thanks for sharing.

  16. ololoGunner says:

    A WINNING MENTALITY

    This is the feeling u get that tells u you’ve already won a battle b4 u even start, a feeling that tells u losing is not an option!
    This “phenomenon” CAN be seen in teams like Man U who believe that they are superior to every club in england (it shows even in the attitude of the Manager), thereby giving the team an extra bite when things seem to b going wrong. And in recent times Chelsea, who gained this mentality from a manager who was on top of the world.
    There is nothing remarkable about these two teams but the fact that they possess this (winning mentality).
    Arsenal needs to shed off this inferiority complex that has gripped it, and sadly there are only two ways to do this:
    1. A new manager who has won something big in the last season
    2.Sign big name players who r used to winning trophies in key positions.

    I may be wrong but I don’t think we have up to 4 players in Arsenal that have won the english title.
    Wenger himself needs to shed this mentality cos I wonder how a manager would bring in an unseasoned midfielder in a game where u have all the possession and are making all the chances but CAN’T score! While u have an in-form carlos vela on the bench!

    • desigunner says:

      Seriously? You think the decision of bringing on JET ahead of Vela is down to a winning mentality or rather the lack of?

  17. aravindvr says:

    the thing is our Football produces a zillion chances every game and when we loses or get a draw people find it difficult to accept…
    while the likes of Chelski/Blackburn(when they win) win it in two or three passes…
    But if we play like tht it makes us like any other team-Stoke,Blackburn/Mourinhoteams who can win the game with a pair of boxing gloves.

    May be ‘winning smart’ is a Quality in itself but tht doesnt undermine our efforts.
    But according to ‘Sun Tzu’s Art of War’ a winner should win it without moving a sword or with least efforts.
    May be we need to work on tht more.

    At present we need some tweaking.
    Like Setpieces.Arsenal are the worst team may be in Premiership in making effective use of Setpieces.
    Wenger need to do a little more work on these.

    We need to keep on producing our beautiful artistic Football,but still shud make enemies fear.

    Like the invincibles era,when we used to watch the match just to know by how much goals we win and to get entertained.

    We need to win the match bef the ball is kicked.
    Thts the real Winning mentality.There was only one team which had tht mentality bef and ther is only one team at present which could still attain the same feat.

    Victory through Harmony

    • desigunner says:

      I think there is a fundamental difference here. Does the manager believe football is about entertainment and that there is a right way and a wrong way?

      Also do the fans understand this and agree with this? The beauty about principles is that the real test only comes in adversity. Can you stick by your principles when others want you to abandon them?

  18. Tony says:

    I have to say, I agree with the Bearman. Though he’s wrong in one aspect; we have Fabregas & RVP.

  19. Davi says:

    The Cohn criteria describe Kieran gibbs perfectly imo (apart from maybe the composure point, but I don’t think he’s played enough to be tested on that)

    • desigunner says:

      I think many of our players are described by that. Bendtner has great deal of confidence. He also comes back well, for instance, after all those misses in one game he did well in all the subsequent games. Similarly Jack, Song, Vermaelen, Cesc, Sagna, Chamakh, and others, all seem to have these qualities.

  20. dennis says:

    Desi.Your thoughtful and insightful posts are lost on those unable or unwilling to comprehend them

  21. False 9 says:

    James has hit the nail on the head.
    Unfortunately though, if we voice an opinion that is contrary to the author’s we get labelled as “not true arsenal supporters”, which is little more than ad-hominem IMO.
    I just have one thing to add to what James brilliantly articulated in his post, and that is the reason that maybe Arsene (whom I admire and want to keep as Arsenal manager) has gone a bit soft IMO. But it is more speculation on my part so bear with me..
    I think the fact that Arsene has built this team almost from scratch with so many young players makes him consider them more as his children, or the product of an experiment (AW described it this way) and may make him a bit moRe protective of them. Especially with everyone reminding anyone within earshot that Arsenal have “failed to lift a trophy in X years” etc… This could create some sort of cocoon Where AW, as a fatherly figure is respected and loved but not necessarily feared and we all know that sometimes fear can be a great motivation.
    United players often say in their interviews that fear of the manager’s reaction was what drovE them to get back in a game/go on to win a game (Berbatov after the Liverpool game this season for example said that if Liverpool had earned a point then “the boss would have been furious”) or when Rooney had made a backpass that resulted in the opposiTion scoring a goal that he was so fearful of SAF that he went on to score a brace or hat-trick (don’t remember which game it was,but it was last season) and those are things you never hear our players say, and I personally know that they want to win fit their gaffer but I just feel that from time to time the fear of the gaffer’s reaction can drive a player to give his utmost and therefore set an example for the others, which then translates in a fightback or a much better performance from the team….and apart from that famous half-time tirade at Anfield last year, I don’t think it happens very often nowadays..and look at how that game ended..Arsenal fought back to manage a win at Anfield and even the players spoke of how that hairdryer treatment did them a world of good.

    Well, I hope I’m wrong and I certainly don’t claim to know better than AW but just voicing my opinion and please Arsene…no more clichy but that’s a different matter.

    • desigunner says:

      Well, I’ve not labelled anyone “not true supporters” at least as far as I can remember. It’s not in my nature to get into that argument.

      Your point is quite interesting. I don’t have any evidence to say you’re right or wrong that’s why I said it’s interesting.

      Only thing is, given what I’ve read about how Wenger hates to lose, I don’t think he’d survive too long if he became overly protective and the team stopped performing.

  22. Metalhead says:

    I don’t care what people say I believe Arsenal do have a winning mentality and to question Arsene Wenger’s winning mentality is plain stupid.
    First of all how do you define ‘winning mentality’? Winning titles? Absolutely not. You can do that with money like Chelsea did. Having a winning mentality to me is fighting your out of a way out of a seemingly hopeless situation. A few years ago Fulham were dead and buried in the relegation battle. 3 games to go and Fulham looked like they were going to be relegated. Man did they show some fight or what? They won all 3 of their remaining games when things looked hopeless. I still remember getting goosebumps when Danny Murphy (?) scored the winning goal in the dying moments of the last game. Reading were in a comfortable position ahead of Fulham but they got relegated. Did Fulham have a winning mentality when compared to Reading? Hell yeah!!

    The reason I came up with this example is because the Premiere League is not an even playing field. The bigger clubs have more resources to enable themselves to win trophies. People never take into account the kind of injuries that Arsenal have had over the years. Some hopeful bloggers hesitantly bring up this point saying that it could a reason why we have not won titles. I think they are absolutely right.

    It’s like putting a Ferrari in a drag race with a bicycle and then saying the Ferrari won because the driver had a winning mentality!! No one will say, the cyclist probably made the cycle faster than it ever did!

    It’s not the dog in the fight that matters but the fight in the dog.
    2005-2006 Arsenal looked all set to take 5th place behind Spurs. But an unbelievable run of victories towards to end saw them leapfrog Spurs to 4th.
    2008-2009 Arsenal nearly finished 5th again but again thanks to a full squad and the arrival of Arshavin they leapfrogged Villa to take 4th
    2009 – 2010 An injury ravaged Arsenal squad kept scoring late goals towards the end of the season to keep themselves in the title race.

  23. Darth Vela says:

    Props on actually thinking about an article, puts you ahead of most journalists, let alone bloggers. I think we are missing one of those 4 attributes though, self confidence. I’m not convinced most of the team actually believed we could beat Chelsea, that contributed as much to our defeat as anything you care to mention and it is what worries me next time we come up against them or Man U. The results against Chelsea/Mancs were a large part of us not winning the league last year, FA cup as well considering we played Chelsea so I’m hoping we get a result against either of them next time we play and get the final piece of the ‘winning mentality’.

    • Metalhead says:

      I totally agree with you, Arsenal did not believe they could win against Chelsea. When Chamakh had a couple of opportunities to score I got the impression he just can’t believe that he can score against Chelsea. It’s like “My God, me? Scoring against Chelsea”? But I still believe injuries are the main reason why we have not won. Last season we achieved the infamous double-double Lost to Chelsea and Man – U and we could have still won the title last season and in 2007. Contrary to what people think we don’t need to beat Chelsea or ManU to win the League. It’s about consistency. To be consistent you need quality players and most of our quality players keep getting injured for long periods this depriving us the opportunity of being consistent. By the way our full strength squad is as good as Chelsea.

      • 7masters says:

        Wrong winning at home to top four is a must or you aredoomed. It big advantage to beat them meantally, it lift you up and it great for the fans. In fact if we bear all other teams then it difference otherwise.

      • desigunner says:

        Focusing on Chamakh, I’d say he has been that way against all teams so I won’t say it was a problem with the opposition. I think he has to find the balance between being a striker and being a team player. It’s not easy and I think he is erring on the side of being a team player. With time and by playing more with the others he will improve on this front.

    • desigunner says:

      Interesting thought. I think we did believe till 38 minutes at least. We started on the front foot, created the better chances, and looked in a positive mood despite 9 injuries and a visit to a fortress like the Bridge.

      After the first goal went in, I think we tried but the belief level might not have been the same as before. However, that certainly doesn’t equate to a lack of winning mentality.

  24. Ajinkya says:

    Just waiting for our full strength squad to come together….
    By the way where’s Denilson?
    He had some good games and yet did not play.

  25. rickygunners says:

    You are writing cock. Trying to win favour from Arsenal asshole?

  26. afrogoon says:

    desie….excelent blog you have here….not a regular poster but an avid reader….i am a torn arsenal supporter right now….a part of me seems to rationalise every setback or defeat we sufferered but of late the doomer in me seems to be growing…..i dont think AW lacks a winning mentality but it is difficult to understand his persistance with certain decisions that seem counter productive…for example…when the WBA game started, after 5mins i had a gut feeling something was not right and the manager should have taken off diaby and eboue….granted i am a nobody compared to AW and it is easier with the benefit of hindsight.I was convinced it was one of those off game days for those players and was suprised to see the same team trot out for the 2nd half.The gaffer himself admitted as much after the game and yet did nothing….it is decisions or in this case a lack off like this that frustrate many gooners…ditto so many other players having mares in previous games and yet still being in the team the next day….i know there might be tangible excuses for all these but there comes a time where the excuses, valid they might be, become plain old boring…..it is frustration setting in after seeing the same movie,maybe different scenes, but ultimately the same ending being repeated over and over again.

    Me personally i prefer to sit on the fence right now and watch the show,hope for the best instead of name calling other gooners and telling them to ship out…..all my years of arguing with them has bore no fruit….i came into every season believing, and sadly still do and yet the same result happens…..what right do i have to think i know more than these ‘doomers’ when my predictions of success have so far failed to materialise?Granted their predictions of our demise has also not become a reality…..it’s time for the team and AW to speak for themselves…..on the pitch that is..that is the only way to stand up to the unbelievers.

    ps…no true gooner can wish failure on the team or gaffer so he can say he was right at the end of the season…the internet is like a carnival..you never know who is behind the ‘mask’.

    • desigunner says:

      Thanks for the compliment and for a very honest post. I’m sure there are many who feel the way you do.

      I also agree with the basics of your argument. The same ending has repeated often, sometimes we get the impression that nothing is being done, Arsene definitely does repeat the same answers, and so on. It can get frustrating and can lead us to believe that nothing has changed.

      I do like to see that we did win against the big teams with the same squad a couple of years back. We also improved against the smaller teams last year. Unsurprisingly, a lot of it was down to the presence on RvP and Cesc at key moments. There can be no doubt we’ve seen drastic improvement in Song, Walcott, and Diaby although the last one is still a bit inconsistent.

      I feel overall if we analyze each game on its own without getting pre-occupied with the past then we can see a lot of positives. It’s not been enough to win titles but it’s going in the right direction. And when we see other teams starting to focus on youths and the youth talent we have, it shows we’re on the right track.

  27. 7masters says:

    Sorry desi I have to disagree Gunners players are mentally weak, it the only difference between us and top two. United too have lost it now, people also forget momentum can carry you all the way to top. We lack that too cause last five years Wenger has disrepected FA culand Carling cu. By fielding weak team. We also lost momentum recently in premiership when Wenger delibarately fielded weak team against united first team and got walloped 4-0 and from then on we never beat united again.

    Despite all these we support Arsenl

    • MSL says:

      Last season we dropped some silly points against West Ham and Wigan etc. That cost us the season. This season again we drop points by not turning up against WBA and not seeing it through against Sunderland. We went 3-0 down against WBA to get back 2. If a two goal deficit is needed to turn on a side then you are not in the right state of mind. We need a desperate situation to give our best. The reason Utd picked trophies is because they see a job through. Simple. Not that they are more capable or more talented or any such reason.

    • desigunner says:

      Isn’t it a myth that Wenger has disrespected the cups? I mean given the injuries we’ve had, could he have really done much better? I think the 4-0 you’re mentioning is from an FA cup game.

  28. Don says:

    I think the ones who lack a winning mentality are the guys who commented at the top of the page.

    • desigunner says:

      I tend to agree with you on that but I’ve learnt with a year of blogging that it’s best to ignore some comments. It reminds me of that saying – Don’t wrestle with a pig, you get dirty and the pig actually enjoys it.

  29. drvics (mumbai gooner) says:

    Hi Desi, I have had a busy week. I would have loved to have been a part of the tactics decision in the earlier post, but it wasnt to be.
    So todays new words are ‘winning mentality’.Hmmm….
    I completely agree with you regarding the opinion that most of us dont have the faintest idea what really goes on in the minds of these top level professionals, the pressures they have to deal with and the expectations they have to live with.
    On the other hand we could try and superimpose similar situations in our own lives and try and comment on the mental aspect, but then it can only be an opinion and not a fact, as several of the ‘supporters’ here are trying to imply.
    So, what is it that keeps me going when I am in a spot? What motivates me to go on?
    It is simply the fact that I want to better myself. It is the notion that I want everything I do to be done as well as I possible could do at that moment of time. It is the chase for perfection.
    I know it sounds a little ‘OCD ‘ish and ‘anal’ both of wish I must admit I have been accused of being, but that is what drives me.
    Someone above quoted Sun Tzu’s ‘the art of war’, but I think another author would be more suited to the Arsenal philosophy, and thats Ayn Rand. I have never thought ‘winning at all cost’ mentality was better than ‘playing beautiful football and winning as a natural consequence’. And thats what we do.
    So, thats what I think the winning mentality is for us, footballing perfection. And yes, winning mentality can be different for different people, depending on what they actually want to achieve in what priority.
    So, yes, the current Arsenal crop dont have the ‘Chelsea winning mentality’, simply because we dont have the same definition of winning.
    Having said that, though we have the raw material for ‘our’ winning mentality (players need to have certain attributes to be selected in this team viz, intelligence, creativity, leadership, team mentality etc., thats why our new players fit into the team almost seamlessly), the players have not perfected them. I am sure experience will take care of that and when it all comes together we will realize that we have had the privilege of witnessing something greater than just winning, we would be witnessing ‘footballing
    perfection’.
    I know it sounds a bit cheesy and impractical etc etc. to those who believe that at the end of the day, its the trophies in the cabinet that matter. But I know there are others like me, who see that what we are trying to achieve is even greater than just a winning team. I just hope that we have the privilege and the patience to see it come to fruition.

    • Metalhead says:

      Never thought this would end up being a philosophical debate!!!!

    • desigunner says:

      Do we want to win or do we want to do the right thing? Good question. Ideally we’d want both but if we had to prioritize how’d we do that. It’s obvious Arsene has gone for right and that’s wearing down the patience of those who are desperate to win.

      If Wenger doesn’t eventually succeed with his way it will be a major loss not only for Arsenal but for the world of football, perhaps even a loss of values against money.

  30. Let’s get to the game against Chelsea at the Bridge in 2007/2008. Two RVP goals got the better of Djourou’s own goal; 2-1! That was the only time since Mourinho Chelsea played Arsenal with both Drogba and Essien missing. I bet Chelsea didn’t have a winning mentality that day!

    Without Fabregas, RVP, Walcott, Varmalaen, Almunia, Bendtner is like Chelsea without Drogba(RVP), Anelka(Bendtner), Malouda(Walcott), Terry(Vam), Chech(Almunia), Essien(Fabregas), that is if Essien truly offers to Chelsea what Fabregas offers Arsenal. With such crises, Chelsea would never have beaten the team that faced them last Sunday, let alone scratch our fit squad any where.

    What Arsene and Arsenal have lacked in recent years is luck. Injury luck! Let’s all pray for a change of luck. The season has not gone bad yet. The only bad game has gone in name of WBA.

    The Arsenal squad do not lack winning mentality. Nothing good comes easy. Even if Fabregas leaves next season, Arsene and Arsenal will dominate England and Europe. But that will still take some three years. Whatever we get before then would be bonus. So, patience, guys.

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