Arsenal 1 – 2 Aston Villa: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

This was a hard game to write about. There was so much to like and appreciate. But all if it was marred by a few stinkers that make it hard to breathe normally even after a few hours since the game ended.

In the preview, I mentioned that Bent was the kind of striker who thrives on defensive errors. The Gunners made plenty of those to gift the striker a couple of goals in the opening fifteen minutes. It was an uphill batter after that.

I don’t know what Squillaci was doing when he ambled back and strayed from the off-side line. If he’d held his position the Englishman would have been miles off. Simple enough thing to do really.

I don’t know what Sagna was doing when he stopped tracking his man. The former Sunderland striker is not the kind of player who is going to take on a defender and score. I’m convinced Bent would have fluffed his chance if Sagna had gone with the run.

I don’t know what Szczesny was doing for either goal. Thankfully, he is in the good books of the fans and will not be ripped to shreds like Almunia would have been if he’d conceded these goals.

In the past couple of seasons four goalkeepers and a dozen or so defenders have made some ridiculous mistakes at the back. The problem is really serious and deep rooted. A fundamental change is needed and it will not come by signing one or two players. The commentator mentioned that Pat Rice will be staying for another year. I don’t know if that is good news or bad. It’s hard to blame the guy who has given so much to the club over such a long time and has been part of some fantastic achievements. I don’t want to blame him. But that doesn’t mean Arsenal don’t need more and better.

There has to be a radical change in the way everyone at Arsenal thinks about defending and I’m afraid it can only come with outside help. More on this in detail during the summer when we will have to survive without football for a long time.

After those two goals it was all Arsenal but that wasn’t enough.

The first half was tough. There weren’t many chances for the home side. Once again the midfield was struggling to move the ball and the wide players were rendered ineffective. The Villa goal wasn’t being tested as often as we would have liked.

It might all have changed just before the half hour mark when Dunne brought Ramsey down. A penalty and a straight red were the obvious decisions for the officials to make. Not for the first time this season, the officials bottled it when the time came to make a call that would turn the game towards Arsenal.

Soon after Van Persie hit the post. Those were the two best chances of the first half for the Gunners.

Nonetheless, I was really impressed by the second half. Every single player fought hard. They tried everything; crosses, shots from distance, intricate passing, you name it. Still it wasn’t enough. Friedel made some good saves. Villa maintained their shape and got their bodies between shots and the goal.

The goal, can’t really be considered consolation, came in the dying minutes of normal time. Sagna floated in a cross. Bendtner got on the end of it and drew three defenders to the ball, which fell kindly to Van Persie amidst all the chaos. The Dutchman showed calmness and good awareness to put it into the corner giving the keeper no chance.

There were a few positives from the game.

Chamakh showed some good touches. There was a moment in the first half when the Moroccan won the ball at the centre of the Villa half. He had four or five defenders around him and no real support. I liked the way he played it out wide to Walcott and charged into the box. Theo’s cross was a good one but just a bit ahead of the striker’s lunge. That’s plan B. That’s the kind of variation that forces opponents to change their style. We need a lot more of that on a consistent basis. Not for this season but for the future. I also liked the goal he scored. Hard to see a foul there. I have seen our defenders pushed around a lot more.

I also liked the way Gibbs played in the second half after a lacklustre showing in the first forty-five. He offered a lot in attack and defence reminding us of the talent that he possesses. It was as if some invisible shackles had been lifted from the young man. He was a lot more confident in tackling and purposeful with his runs and movement. It reinforces the belief that the present system tends to burden the full-backs a lot, especially on the left, thereby limiting their ability to fulfil their potential. It’s another issue that will need serious work and is related to the main point about defence mentioned earlier.

Bendtner too looked like a real menace whenever he got into the box. His first involvement was winning a header from a corner at the back post which led to a good chance. He also made a vital contribution to the goal. I have no doubt we have enough variety in the squad to develop multiple variations in attack. But it is all driven from the vision of the man at the top.

Finally, it was great to see Vermaelen back in the squad. He offers something extra with his technique and his shooting skills. It wasn’t a fairytale return but I, for one, am pleased to have him back.

Individual Performances:

Szczesny: Another disappointing game. For the second goal he looked more eager to blame the defenders even before concentrating on saving the shot that went straight through him.

Sagna: Horrible mistake for the second goal. Charged forward without a plan and got in the way of Walcott too often. That issue has to be sorted out.

Squillaci: Just keeps giving people more reasons to dislike him.

Vermaelen: Decent performance on his return after a long time. Looked composed on the ball. Took a couple of shots from distance.

Gibbs: Poor first half, encouraging second half. Some of his tackling was top class. His runs in attacking areas were well timed. Could have done more with his final ball and, on one occasion, his finishing.

Seems like Szczesny has taken over from Almunia is the goalkeeping blunders department. Squillaci just took over Djourou’s recent woeful form. At least Vermaelen was as solid as Koscielny has been in recent weeks. Gibbs gave a glimpse that the talent in him is not completely dead.

Song: Awful. Not sure what he was trying to do. Passing was extremely poor. Wasn’t as close to the defenders as he should have been. Almost gifted a goal to Bent in the second half but Vermaelen’s presence was enough to put the striker off.

Ramsey: One very good run in the box that could and should have changed the game. Showed good skill on occasions but his overall contribution was again very disappointing. Didn’t move the ball well enough and didn’t offer enough of an attacking threat as is expected from a player in that role.

Wilshere: Probably playing on his last legs. Another exhausted effort from the youngster with a few bright moments spread between a largely ineffective performance.

Once again the midfield was quite poor. When the team was tentative early on, they should have dropped back and provided some solidity in front of the defence. Villa were looking to come out and that would have opened up the game for Theo and Arshavin. The coaches and manager on the bench have to drill this message into the players and have to make a decisive contribution from the sidelines if it isn’t working.

Walcott: Has been crowded out way too often in the recent weeks. Has to change flanks more often when that happens. It seems to me that this midfield just doesn’t have an eye for the runs that he makes. Fabregas made it look way too easy. Some of his delivery was excellent.

RvP: Kept plugging away and got his reward at the end. Has to do better with his set-pieces and free-kicks. Strange thing is that he had improved in that department but seems to have regressed. Could be a mental thing related with the form of the team. Wasn’t very effective in a deeper role after Chamakh came on.

Arshavin: Couldn’t offer enough. Another player who got into interesting positions and was ready to make some runs but the midfielder on the ball never spotted it or couldn’t find him.

Subs: Chamakh should have had a goal. Bendtner should have started.

Wenger: Poor choice to start with both Arshavin and Walcott. Substitutions were decent. Should have sent the team out with a plan. Has to be ready for and must prepare his team to deal with the effects of a poor run by playing a more cautious style initially. Cautious isn’t ideal but is better than confused and all over the place.

I want to end by mentioning that there was a lot to observe in this game. There were some classic examples of the weaknesses that this team has. We also saw some genuine glimpses where concentrated effort can result in a stronger, more diverse, and infinitely more threatening performances. More on this after a couple of weeks.

89 Responses to Arsenal 1 – 2 Aston Villa: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. craig says:

    Wilshere did have two great chipped passes over the defense. That is a crucial path to unlocking the “two banks of four (or 5 as is often the case against Arsenal) that often goes missing when Cesc is out. One went to Ramsey for the vanishing penalty.

    And the team did great after their early game piss poorness. Aside from the first two goals, two things were lacking- finishing and a referee (and the ref was sorely, sorely lacking).

    I’m not one to focus on the negative, but I agree wholeheartedly about the need for a defensive rethink. I don’t think it’s in the open play department, though, because until the team broke down the last two games, their record was pretty exceptional. But from set plays, something is needed. The two errors today were catastrophic, and Sagna has traditionally been above that kind of thing, but the team is broken right now, not the system.

    I don’t know if I’ve posted on here before, but you do a phenomenal job on this blog – one of the most thoughtful and rational out there.

    • critic says:

      hmm..a good point of a broken team, but then they should just return their weekly wages of last 2 weeks…What is wenger doing if he can’t pull his team’s act together?

  2. SoCal_Gun says:

    I think this type of loss exemplifies Arsenal

    They played well, except for 2 horrible mistakes. However hard they huffed and puffed, the house would not come down

    There were poor ref decisions, a post was hit, and chances were missed……but in the end it’s another home loss to a team in the lower half of the league

    This game didn’t really matter…. .but these are the same issues that comeback to haunt us.

    Clearly, these issues have not been solved this season

  3. gunneradt says:

    you seem to have completely forgotten that van persie was put clean through only to be pulled wrongly back by the officials and that Chamakh had a perfectly good goal disallowed. Ive no idea what you expect Chesney to have done about either goal.

    • Zgunner says:

      I agree in not blaming the goalie… but I do agree that the horror from the defense distracted him from giving it his best shot at a save. Wojeich has made crazier saves than either shot Bent scored tonight (though I confess his first goal is gorgeous.) The defense puts Szceny in awkward situations and it can make him look as goofy as Hurellio Gomez if that’s even possible.

  4. Ash says:

    Where to begin. This system is so easy to defend against. Just pack the midfield and wait for us to over commit and hit us on the break. Last week Wenger eluded to the fact that we have conceded the majority of our goals from set pieces. Well today we saw that from open play we are just as succeptible to conceding stupid goals. Song has gone back to the player of 2009. No mobility and no awareness of what’s around him. I have always defended Arshavin but he must go. No protection for Gibbs because he is too lazy and offers nothing but fleeting moments in the game. Not good enough. Our system must be changed back to 4-1-3-1-1 with van Persie playing off Chamakh. Buy Scott Parker as GENUINE holding midfield player and buy a proper left sided player with pace. Let Fabregas go and bring Nasri in the middle. Nasri doesn’t protect Sagna as much so that should limit the damage his defensive incapabilities have cost us this season. Id love Ozil but I’d take Young from Villa. We need a towering centre back. Samba is a must! With Schezesny, him, vermaelen, van Persie and Chamakh we should be better defending set pieces. Add Diaby and we will have strength and power for away games. Will always love the arsenal but patience with Wenger and these players is wearing thin. Some of them don’t understand the fans and what it means to wear the shirt.

    • santori says:

      No to Scott Parker. He is too small. IN his role, Jack is better.

      Song is a good DM and Frimpong is up and coming. We do need cover for Song. I think Koscielny should be tried in the position but only if someone replaces Squillaci.

      No to Samba. BIg and strong yes but lacks mobility. PLus I think what we really need back there to keep our heads organised and focused is someone with massive experience winning things at top top level.

      Someone like Lucio at Inter would be my fav option. Surely he can’t cost anymore than Squillaci did!

  5. Pete says:

    “Chamakh showed some good touches. There was a moment in the first half when the Moroccan won the ball…”

    Pretty impressive, especially as he was a substitute and didn’t come on until the second half!!

  6. nicky says:

    Things cannot carry on like this for another season.
    There must be changes in team tactics, particularly in defence. In the second half, when we were allowed maximum possession, it was pathetic to watch our continued close passing in their penalty area, as though it was forbidden to shoot.Crosses came in with no attempt to meet them. To me, the team seemed to be
    eleven men with no hope. The Summer Window cannot arrive too soon, as well as pre-season training.
    We must inject new blood as well as new training methods as without both we are doomed to have yet another sorry season.

  7. dan says:

    Honestly Desi, why bother? Analysis? We all know what the problems have been, but those charged with solving them have done nothing.

    • santori says:

      Why bother posting?

      It’s just banter amongst us. Maybe it might accrue a butterfly effect, in most parts it will matter F all.

      But if you get annoyed with chatter, then don’t bother coming on here. That’s all it is.;)

      • dan says:

        We can agree it isn’t analysis then. But if you insist on poring over another fresh pile of shyte with a microscope, by all means, however, I can assure you that no matter how you choose to look at it, it is just another shyte pile.

      • santori says:

        If that’s all you see, why bother posting.

  8. yogi says:

    going back to the 4-4-2 are we ? if this is how we are gonna play next season i think we can do better and win some silverware.. btw. is song gonna move back into defense ?


    add to this vela, nb52, diaby, arsh, eboue and the others ( no fab4) and we still have a cup winning team..

    • santori says:

      In part yes.

      BUT it’s one variation in which we should adopt against tightly parked teams. In other situations, the more open 4-3-3 may be better.

      The main issue is this natural progression toward devloping a 4-4-1-1 system (4-4-2) if you like was retarded somewhat when RVP came back in and Wenger prioritised (incorrectly IMO) the Carling as a major piece of silverware.

  9. coob23 says:

    agree with most like, but what did shezza do wrong??? 1st goal no chance, and second goal bent was 10 yards out and shezza ran off his line and bent clipped it through his leg which is almost unsaveable… poor on that. thought verm and gibbs were our two best at the back by miles. i love vermaelen to pieces, one of the few that deserves a place…
    ramsey and ljw were poor at times, but really good at times. some great passes, but some terrible ones at the same time.
    song’s passing was disgraceful at best. unbelievable how bad it was.
    rvp as usual was the only one with any fire in his belly. hes a fucking hero, i love that man to pieces. arshavin was my favourite player 2 years ago and saying he was shite is an understatement… walcott- i love him, but people rarely pass to him when hes free and expect him to be magic with 2 players around him… miss fab so much for that

    he oliver ref cunt was the worst ref i have ever seen. villa just fouled us all over the pitch, constantly, dunne should have been sennt off and we should have had a penalty at the same time and what was wrong with chamakhs goal???? massive cunt. 4th place? so poor

    • santori says:

      With you on Szsc. Not much he could have done but attempt to save them.

      Song, I thought he misplace a couple of passes and was a little shaky first half. Principally, I think in part it was due to him being caught in two minds between the porous hole (that is Squillaci) at the back, and going forward.

      There was a palpable tentativeness to our play first half and we were not fully in control.

      We did much better second half and that was in part to Song slotting in comfortably next to TV. We controlled the game better and Song was effective moving forward on a number of occasions.

      So I would say the criticism against Song is somewhat unjust (Jack way laid an equal number of passes himself IMO first half)

    • santori says:

      Manchester is flush with money these days.

  10. coob23 says:

    also yogi… awful team mate… no new signings and song is not that good at centre back… plus everyone knows we need a new striker, would keep chamakh on bench at best.

    • yogi says:

      well coob23 new signings seem unlikely. AW will probably buy one or two unknowns. also its very unlike wenger to wait for chamakh for so long and then let him go after one season. so i think we’ll be seeing a lot of him(and he’s not so bad btw)

      and the “youth project” was all abt players like rambo walcott vela gibbs n wilshere. now that they are all around 20, AW will be looking to get them a lotta game time rather than replace them or get in new signings in similar positions.

      • Zgunner says:

        I am 100% with you.

      • Zgunner says:

        Of course don’t forget Frimpong and other Arsenal player’s on loan (including Mannone.) I would like to see Amalfitano from Lorient in an Arsenal shirt if Fabregas leaves. Amalfitano and Gameiro from Lorient would be plenty.

        I had a gut about Amalfitano being a suitable and realistic transfer in this coming summer, so I decided to Wikipedia him… check it:

        “On 13 May 2011, it was suggested that Arsenal Football Club were in talks to sign him and Kevin Gameiro from FC Lorient. Amalfitano possesses powerful midfield play and has been likened to Patrick Vieira. He is avaliable on a free transfer at the end of the 2010/11 football season.”

      • santori says:

        I don’t think Chamakh will be let go. he has shown today that he has some obvious qualities which we could do with up front. More likely Bendtner as a result of lack of playing time.

        Frimpong should be gradjuated to first team but might still be rough round the edges. I would think Koscielny would be a candidate as cover for Song but that would entail a relacement for Squillaci in someone ike Lucio.

        As for Fab, I think Arsharvin could be moved in field as he has slowed out wide but has obvious ability in distribution (as can be atested by his assist rate)

        The other interesting thing is to play 4-4-1-1 as we did today in the second half with RVP as a quasi-playmaker/CF.

        A variation between the two will afford us more unpredictability.

        IF Wenger thinks Arsharvin and RVP are not sufficient for Fab (bear in mind Nasri can also deputise), then maybe a move for Gourcuff (who hasn’t hit stride at Lyon). he may just link up well with Chamakh.

        But of course as you say, not quite certain if Wenger sees it this way. I hope we don’t sign the unknowns. It isn’t what we need.

  11. Northbanksy says:

    The team plays one dimensional football. In that respect we are no better than a team that only relies on long balls or set pieces to score.It may be nicer to watch but it’s no more effective. On a good day against a sloppy team they look great but against
    well organised opposition, too often they are impotent.

    • santori says:

      Not really.

      We varied our play second half and it close to paid dividends.

      We dropped Squillaci and went 4-4-1-1 with RVP in the hole.

      that forced us to utilise the wings more (with Ramsey/jack in the middle) and we got in a good cross to Chamakh (for once since Nov) and he duely put it away. Sadly it was disallowed for unknown reasons.

  12. dan says:

    Great yogi, with that team we just might win the Emirates Cup. This board/manager are only fit for a pub team in Fukushima. It’s over.

    Half empty stadiums and less revenue is the future unless changes are made.

  13. bob says:

    being 2 – 0 down in 20 mins had nothing to do with the ref.

    sorry but you think the winning teams make rookie errors again and again like that? no they dont….

    wenger’s time is up.

    but for all you ‘in wenger we trust’ blind brigades lets have yet another season of mental weakness and no plan b…. and all for the bargain price to the club of £6.5mln a year.

    good insnt it ? enjoy the season ticket price rise lads…. i wont !

    • Zgunner says:

      Watch it on TV you sour puss. DON’T go to the stadium you moaner, the team can do without your negative vibe. It was a great performance and I don’t think it’s fair to judge the game on 20minutes. The team didn’t surrender and gave a brilliant second half. You know we were robbed again, a penalty, a goal. Just like we were robbed at Anefield, in Newcastle, Stadium of lights. How many points is Arsenal robbed by refs every season? 10? 15?

      You’re too hard on the team AND manager. How come you don’t put any blame on the fans?

      Just because I believe in Wenger doesn’t mean I am blind.

      • dan says:

        Blaming the refs and the fans again? It was a fantastic performance? I think some one needs a tissue.

      • santori says:

        That was a blatant goal though. And it was a ball to Chamakh’s head, something we have been neglecting to do since RVP’s return.

        I thought it showed spirit that RVP is up to the fight.

        IF RVP walked away meekly, then there would be cause for concern.

        So I’m not quite sure why you’re complaining.

      • bob says:

        robbed ? thats a new excuse ! any other excuses for losing ?

        look, until wenger (and his players) are put under pressure to win we will always have excuses like this…

        but BACK TO THE POINT !

        being 2 – 0 down in 20 mins had nothing to do with the ref.

        answer that ! if you can….

      • santori says:

        Certainly we only have ourselves to blame for gifting them a 2 goal lead but had Chamakh’s header been correctly counted, it would have been 1-2 and with RVP’s goal, we would have been level then anything can happen.

        (I won’t even mention the penalty)

        There is a definite affect with the ‘poor decision’.

      • santori says:

        And do remember, a game is played over 90 minutes not the first 20.

  14. cescfiberglass says:

    Even as a real fan. I am glad Arsenal lost the way we did.

    Major gaps in the quality between us and true champions was visible.

    Hopefully some new personnel are brought in and a few deadwood are taken out.

    I am predicting that if we do not change, we will be fighting for places between fourth and sixth place.

    • santori says:

      Not that major. we aren’t that far away.

      BUT this whole limp to the finish is certainly annoying and I think some of the senior players are suffering maladies which have formed more in their head than in their thighs (although seemingly, the pain has migrated that way)

      • santori says:

        One of them might migrate himself to Catalonia. The other from Marseille I think will stay.

  15. Adam says:

    If Wenger is not going to change I can’t really see the point of him sticking around. You would need to be blind not to see that it is not happening as things are. I can’t see him ever winning anything again with his current mindset. He has had the chances and him and the team have blown it. What makes anyone think that there is any future in persevering with the same old thing?

    • jim says:

      Arsene won’t change. Mark my words. He won’t change.

      • santori says:

        Well, there’s that. He is a stubborn man.

        If he doesn’t and we repeat our limp across the finish line performance next season, I think he’ll be out.

        Those calling for his head can wait till then.

  16. Phil23 says:

    I love how people say stuff like “being 2 0 down was nothing to do with the ref”. That has absolutely nothing to do with us having a goal and a penalty ripped away from us? If the game had panned out exactly the same with some competent refereeing would we not have made a comeback to win 3 – 2? Has this not happened all year? At the end of the season I will go back over and prove why this league is corrupt. Untold has been doing it for ages. We player a great second half and imo deserved the win. After listening to Arsenes post match speech I dont think we are going to get any new staff additions… On a better and very important note Hazard and Vertonghen have both won their respectful titles in Holland and France. Vertonghen being the captain and Hazard being the star player I would now like to think they are experienced enough to come straight into the club and make a massive difference. I hope people realised that Vermaelen had just as much heart as Van Persie tonight. He has a drive from defence and I was proud to have him back.

    • bob says:

      ‘At the end of the season I will go back over and prove why this league is corrupt’.

      u cant be taken seriously saying stuff like that, we were 2 – 0 down because of bad defending simple as that !

      you dont win even with bad ref decisions IF YOU GO 2 – 0 within 20mins.. look at the back 5 of the undefeatables.

      what part of basic maths don’t you understand?

      • Phil23 says:

        I find that rather funny! My maths is wrong? you just said we couldn’t have come back from 2 0 down yet everyone except you know that the score would have been 3 2 if the game had been officiated properly. This is a recurring pattern and has been recurring for years. The decisions DO NOT even out, you are an absolute fool for believing it. Btw 5 people seemed to agree with me, can they also not count?

      • santori says:

        @phil23… you can add me on to your list.

        Seems like Bob only likes matches of 20 minute duration and doesn’t belief in comebacks (like say Newcastle)

      • Zgunner says:

        “If the game had panned out exactly the same with some competent refereeing would we not have made a comeback to win 3 – 2? Has this not happened all year? At the end of the season I will go back over and prove why this league is corrupt.”

        You nailed it.

        Have you ever wondered how come other teams that trail against Arsenal tend to get the decision going ‘their way’ enabling them to make that comeback? Newcastle game? Tottenham at home? wait a minute… it was the same ref in both games???!!!!

        English league should be expecting a scandal like the one in Italy a few years ago… Even the pundits and commentators are blatantly mocking Arsenal.

        And yes… THE FANS ARE TO BLAME. Anyone who follows the league knows our away fans have much more life than in the Emirates.

  17. amband says:

    Sagna can go too. He is more concerned about his hairstyle. The sooner he, and it leave, the better.

    Hazard is only 5’7 tall, Shawcross bait.

    All in all, dreadful

    Wenger out!

    • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna says:

      No you go out…..the difference between you lot and Wenger is that he knows what he is talking about… lot simply moan,groan,whine and cry and wrongfully are convinced that someone at Arsenal care about your opinions…..nobody does!

    • santori says:

      5’7… surprise surprise so is Messi! 😀

      • santori says:

        Vertonghen is highly rated but still somewhat of an unknwon and crucially has no experience winning majjor titles (beyond domestic)

        I’d much rather we get someone like Lucio who at 33 has expereince and is still quality (pace-wise and in the air). Crucially, he is 33, and will be content with the occasional bench role, thereby affording TV/Djourou a chance to flourish. If not, he is there as an insurance (at Squillaci’s expense of course)

      • amband says:

        yes but he doesn’t have to face more physical opponents like in the EPL. The man is also unusually gifted

      • santori says:

        He’s faced enough EPL opposition (players better than Shawcross) and had no problem waltzing through.

        Might I add Xavi and Iniesta (for tha matter Villa and Marscha) are not terribly big either. Shawcross bait? 😀

    • santori says:

      Shawcross is rubbish.

  18. Yang says:

    I really cannot understand why Arsenal stick to noob keeper. The goalie is a commander of defenders. I am pretty sure this so called set piece defense problem stem from keeper who is supposed to arrange defense.

  19. JP says:

    i have lost faith, didn’t watch and i am glad i spared myself the pain. i feel sorry for those who have to pay increase next year to see this again. Everyone else knows they must invest to keep up, we nickle and dime in transfer market and are falling back. No mention of team getting boooed off the field. I guess they are not real fans either as some wud have one believe.

    • santori says:

      Painful yes but these sorts of games are useful. Hopefully Wenger is getting a bit of a lesson on the issues hampering the team.

      I wouldn’t miss a minute of it. It is useful instruction for what we need to strengthen this summer.

  20. santori says:

    I’m not sure if I was quite viewing the same thing Desi.

    I think what we saw was a game of 2 halves. Good Second half, poor first half.

    And the deciding issue was tactical set up.

    When we took off Squillaci (I have said this before that he is our eakest link and should make way this summer), slotting Song next to Vermaelen, we were much more solid at the back.

    And more threatening up front with (again I have been an advocate here) RVP dropped into the hole floating off of Chamakh.

    In essence going a sort of 4-4-1-1 with Jack and Ramsey in the middle of the park forced us to go naturally wide and put crosses into Chamakh (Bendtner on overload with crosses from out right)

    Yes we had our chances too first half BUT we were much more menacing second half and more crucially in better control of the game.

    Which begs the question why did Pat Rice and Wenger think that they could afford a similar set up which cost us at Stoke?

    In the end, we had to revert to a formation similar to Stoke second half. Surely there must be a lesson in there for Wenger. Why are we neglecting the obvious strengths of Chamakh/RVP particularly in games when teams try to crowd us out in the middle?

    Pat Rice staying is not good news for me as it will represent much of the same malaise. However, if Wenger is keeping him out of respect (I am not a fan of this), then perhaps the next best move would be to get in decent specialist coaches, one each for defensive and attacking issues.

    On the face of it, a horrid result BUT taking into account the second half performance, I would have to say that the quality is there (bar Squillaci). It is a tactical issue more than anything that needs to be sorted.

  21. santori says:

    I’m not so sure if I agree with the player ratings.

    1) I didn’t think Szsc was all that bad. I don’t think you can fault him much for both goals as he was terribly exposed. OTOH, he made a couple of fine saves second half.

    2)Squillaci. The jury is out. One of Wenger’s less accomplish buys (albeit maybe better than Silvestre). I don’t see much utility in keeping him around.

    He should make way as he is the weakest link.

    3) Vermaelen. Had we not had the second half, he would have been easily slated by the faithful as not up to the mark. But he pproved once again solid and beside the right partner willmake us stronger at the back.

    My take on the CBack situation is that Vermaelen and Djourou should make a formidable partnership (on account of their respective strengths). Kos is a reaonable deputy but more crucially may have a role to play as a back up to Song (and the less mature Frimpong who should see first team action)

    Therefore, what we need now is a quality defender but someone

    a) senior (ie. capable of being parked on the bench if necessary)
    b) has had top top experience (not just ligue one title, no dis to the championat)

    Someone like Lucio at Inter (33) will be fantastic for us and an insurance in the event TV/Djourou does not fire.

    4)Sagna. Was he at fault? I’ll have to watch the replay. I thought it was Squillaci who was late tracking back.

    Sagna played well out right I thought.

    5) Gibbs. Yes he was much better second half.

    6) Song. I disagree that he had a horrid match. He slotted in well next to Vermaelen and kept us solid in the second half. he also went forward and picked his passes well.

    7)Ramsey/Jack. Interesting to see the lads holding with RVP just ahead. As an exercise, I think it affords us the opportunity to go 4-4-1-1 against a parked bus, with their lung capacity. It thereby affords us the ability to have that physical presence in the box (and for RVP to feed off)

    8)Walcott. whilst he has pace to menace, he lacks guile. Which is a reason why I feel we requireanother winger (LW). I would like to see us splash the cash for Hazard, who can play with both feet/both flanks. It will give us another option in the speed merchant dept particularly as …

    9) Arsharvin has slowed. I think it will be more effective to play him down the middle inlieu of Fab. Nyle Walker had him suitably contained. BUT the Russian still has the gift of picking out passes. That was not the case today as he was off wavelength.

    Having said that, I’m not quite sure if I would have put Bendtner in for him. I would have rather had Walcott off and maybe Arsharvin out right cutting in. he is more of a menace in tight situations IMO.

    10)RVP. I have mentioned this before. We should have given more opportunity in exploring a partnership between Chamakh and RVP.

    Whilst on a lethal streak, RVP to me is a hybrid between a playmaker and a CF. He dirfts out way too often leaving us barren of threat in the middle, particularly when teams defend in depth. We then end up skirting the periphery hoping to thread in the perfect pass.

    To me, RVP plays better in these situations off of a big man. It affords him the opportunity to drift and come up in unpredictable areas.

    More importantly with the possibility of a Fab move, playing RVP as a quasi-playmaker is an area whicch we would well do to explore as an option to playinga straight playmaker.

    11) Chamakh. Again, I think Wenger has been sucked into this whole ‘cup’issue.

    We should have continued to play Chamakh for the Carling and kept him sharp. More importantly, it would have also kept our progress (which we were making) in putting in decent crosses into the box.

    Instead, we relied on RVP and retarded the growth in this other area of play, thereby negating our tactical options in the long run.

    I thought Chamakh showed a bit more awareness today and had several good touches.

    Might I add that IF Fab is sold and Wenger decides we do need the insurance of an additional pplaymaker (above RVP, AA and Nasri), then perhaps a ove for Gourcuff may not be bad being that he is currently struggling at Lyon (and he has proven experience linking with a certain Morrocan CF)

  22. Disillusioned says:

    Oh please Gibbs is really terrible I don’t know how anyone cannot see this. I would like to know our results in the games he’s started this season.

    • santori says:

      Gibbs. You realise why we still need Clichy when he plays.

      I don’t think he is terrible, just green.

      Give him time. They said the same about Song, Jack, Walcott and Nasri. They have made vast improvements this season which is encouraging. At their age, given the right environment, they will continue to improve.

  23. Disillusioned2 says:

    Also it’s a bit of a joke to see self professed ‘real fans’ saying they are ‘glad’ that Arsenal lost. If that’s being a real fan then I may give up on this sport altogether.

    • santori says:

      Never understood the rationale behind that one either. 😀

      Although there is much to learn in defeat..provided of course the gaffer learns them.:P

    • amband says:

      the reason, I gather, is to quicken the day AW & board realize their plans are shite

      • santori says:

        Seems like a retarded way of doing things. If the plans are shite, the results will speak for themselves.

        There isn’t any need to wish that your team should lose a match.

        We have limped towards the finish line yet again BUT in truth, when all is taken into accounnt and despite the ‘shite plans’, we really haven’t been that far to winning things.

        What’s most important is self belief. Sadly that seems missing not just amongst players but some fans too.

  24. amband says:


    Domhuaille MacMathghamhna says:
    May 16, 2011 at 1:29 am

    ” No you go out…..the difference between you lot and Wenger is that he knows what he is talking about…”

    If you believe that, you really are a fuckwit!

    • bob says:

      the point is thankfully the delusional blind ‘fuckwits’ that accuse any other person with an alternate opinion of reality to theirs as a non fan (whatever that is anyway!) are now shifting into a minority.

      the really funny thing is absolutely everybody outside the gooner fraternity has seen the problems for 2/3 seasons now, its that transparent but alas some of our fans still cant or refuse to.


      common sense will prevail and thankfully unlike wenger, stan wont accept losing, its bad for the arsenal brand / image.

      • santori says:

        Seeing the problem is not ‘the problem’

        Fixing it is slightly different.

        I don’t think it is as clear cut as simply buying a commanding Cback.

        There are many little areas of our play which need remedy.

        Yes, Wenger is part of the problem as he isn’t seeing the detials but we must also understand that :

        1) Fixing the coaching set up could be a more complex/political problem that might have other down sides if not properly handled (and I say this as a strong advocate of coaching changes)

        2)Purchasing strength has been hampered by the ability of emerging nouveau riche clubs to dictate market pricing.

        That said, I do feel he (Wenger) with kroenke’s backing now has more ammunition to address some of the concurrent issues more effectively this summer.

        Let’s see shall we?

  25. ak47 says:

    id say to any fan, try being an arsenal supporter for one season then go back to your original team and you will finally see what we moan about in terms of the officiating is not fictional.
    and to so called arsenal fans who still cannot see, guess you will buying man shitty tops next yr.

    • bob says:

      listen mate, stop being such a bad loser. officiating evens itself out over a season.

      being 2 – 0 at home to villa who could have been relegated within 20 mins has to do with one thing alone. like losing like wimps to b-ham.

      so does not winning a trophy for 6 seasons.

      what the hell has happened to education in this country. pls look up logical deduction once you have learned how to think for yourself.

      it may help?

      • santori says:

        Not really. Some teams enjoy more of the rub of the green.

        However, point taken. We musn’t use it as an excuse or let it even remotely creep into the players minds, and they must find a way to dig in if the cards are (as usual) stacked against them.

        Mourinho trains his teams playing ten against 11. We could do that whilst also gifting the other side an expected two goal deficit. Might harden us mentally to be prepared for these sort of mishaps.

  26. winston says:

    At the beginning of the season I felt that we will finish in the top four and any thing better would be bonus.For the last six years there have been several issues that have been recurring so regularly you wonder why they hve not been addressed.
    1.We need a bigger squad to allow some degree of slack in the system as come january we have too many players injured some with long term injuries.This also will give some option to rotate some players giving those who dont get enough time on the pitch to stay in the match atmosphere as it were
    2.The defensive play again has been poor for a long time and most managers would have addressed this a long time ago.We need dfenders who are totally comitted and you wont find them in bargain basement stores.I think we should buy british but they dont come cheap.In fact I dont think good qulity defenders British or otherwise come cheap.If you dont concede stupid goals(and we seem to be pretty good at it!)you dont loose matches.
    3.Yes Wilshire and RAmsey are good but they have some way to go.When both Ces and Nasri are absent there is no pennetration in the qulity of passes to break down defenses.
    4.Walcott as a winger has not delivered.He has speed,but very little skill.I think we should look for some one who is not only quick but has the skill to controll and dribble
    5.we need a solid combative holding midfielder.
    6.We need to get good at scoring from set peices ourselves because teams have cottoned on to the fact that they wont stand a chance if the play open football agaist us and that includes every single team in the premiership.

    I dont think we should balme Arsene Wenger because I dont think he has had the money to implement these changes.Imagine playing a brand of football like the George Graham era.I think it will be painful to watch for me and i think a lot of neutrals( and there ARE a lot of them) would stop watching us play
    7.Should have a clear out in summer of a lot of players who are sitting on their back sides and drawing cushy salaries week in and week out.
    Sincierly hope we have a better season next year

    • santori says:

      Not sure about the bigger squad. We have a pretty big squad as is (and think of wages)

      What we do need is added quality in certain key areas.

      1) We need an experienced defender who can serve as an alternate/ back up to a TV/Djourou partnership. Someone who has won it all say Lucio but not allergic to the bench on occasion if need be. Squillaci out.

      2)We need another winger. AA has lost his pace and Walcott is one dimensional. Someone like Hazard who can play both wings would be ideal. I say get him now because his price will only appreciate if he is snapped up this summer by someone-else. Plus I think he will serve this year transitionally as a back up for Andrei who will take on the Rosicky role as senior player. Come next season, if AA has diminished in utility, Hazard will have subsume his responsibilities out wide and we could replace Andrei with someone-else in the middle (or Miyaichi if he develops)

      I’m not sure about a clear out but I can see up to 7 players moving out.

      a) Almunia, Bendtner and possibly Fab on their own accord.

      b) Rosicky, Denilson, Squillaci and Vela should be released or used as make weight for some of our targets.

      • santori says:

        On set pieces.

        Is it just me or have we lost some of our venom when taking free kicks??? We rarely seem to threaten in this department any more.

  27. ak47 says:

    look square pants, officiating evens itself out over a season? got proof or anything close to prove this? didnt think so. there is loads to support what im saying though.

    yet such a cliched response from someone accusing other of not thinking for themselves. then you go on to reveal your true colours with yet another cliched 6 yr trophy nonsense.

    the education in this country seems to be producing wool birds who think they are logical individuals. deduct from that what you will.

    • bob says:

      so i notice you still haven’t addressed the points raised ?

      • bob says:

        so for the sake of clarity ….

        how was the ref at fault for us going down 2 – 0 within 20 mins to a team we should be beating, especially at the emirates?

        and to make it very ‘simple’ for you … how are refs at faults for our total lack of defense discipline or ability to deal with crosses?

        when you can be honest and understand the above you will then understand JUST ONE reason as to why we arnt winning trophies.

        nothing to do with the ref and all to do with wenger.

        I await an intelligent response to that argues your case … until then, no more excuses

      • Phil23 says:

        For sake of clarity, nobody is talking about the goals conceded. The defence has problems and everyone has said this… The fact is that our football mentality is to score more than the opposition, if you don’t like it f off. We scored 2 and would most likely have put the penalty away. Therefore we would have WON THE GAME. If you don’t get that thats fine but stop trying to tell everyone else they are wrong cause as far as I can see your the only one who doesn’t seem to get it. Why dont you try prove us wrong and show evidence that we have evened out this summer. Honestly you can have till the transfer window closes, i’ll still be here and until the day you prove your right (you wont) I will laugh at you for being a fool.

    • Phil23 says:

      Dw ak, bob is semi retarded.

  28. Yesterday was a poor poor day.3 wins since the cup defeat.Surely there’s problem deeply rooted as the same happened last season.Really cheap goals.But good to see verminator back.
    There are questions I’d like to ask from fellow gooners:

  29. Roy says:

    I just see a bunch of players waiting to see if they get sold off in the summer.
    There’s no team work, no work rate, no commitment. Most are happy collecting there wages and waiting for a move!
    What happened to my beloved Arsenal??!!

  30. james says:

    Desi, I really appreciate your analyses and the time you put to even comment on this hapless team- the saddest part is that the players no longer listen to Wenger or even seem to feel it necessary to take in his coaching again and it’s the worst thing to see from a manager who has brought them up. Wenger needs to be ruthless enough to move out the weeds. This is his show-me-what-you-really-are time and I hope he realizes it.

    • santori says:

      I dunno, I thought the team rallied well for the second half yesterday. Wenger must have busted out his portable hairdryer. Crucially, it also came with some reasonable tactics to reverse our ineptitude in the first.

      Wenger has to adopt the right tactical decisions. If he doesn’t (and we have already heard from our usual mild mannered Mr Bendtner), some of the players will start to lose confidence (if not already)

      That’s where a revamp of his coaching staff could help. He is however, a stubborn man. If he doesn’t reorganise his back room, then Pat Rice and him will have to resolve the ‘glaring’ issues quickly by themselves.

      I think the fans patience will finally snap end next season if results end in familiar pattern.

  31. FATOU says:

    DESI –

    You are very complacent. On this site of yours, many have been screaming throughout the season. They kept screaming until you shut them up. The weaknesses have been glaring. Almost anyone who can see has seen them. Except Arsene Wenger who keeps denying there is a problem. Some people wrote on this site not long ago that come the end of the season, we would be fighting for 3rd place and here we are. Since Wenger is in hermetic denial, there is no reason to believe that next year will be different.

    • santori says:

      This is the big fear.

      BUT I do think IF he persist with his current course and ends up short again next season, he will leave his post.

      Then there will be an unknown factor beyond that.

      I would have preferred him to shake up the coaching staff and introduce a couple of specialist junior coaches to work on our defense and attack. That way, it might have served him as a way of grooming eventual succesion from within.

      As is, we will probably have to keep taps with managers that will share similar ethos (but not necessarily methods). 3 Years down the road, there’s Blanc. Perhaps more avialable in 1-2 year time frame Deschamp.

  32. pH says:

    I cant say this is a good post today Desi.
    The team did not turn up for a whole 45 minutes and concede 2 goals in the first 15 minutes. Many of the players didn’t fight hard enough. They seemed not to care. We lacked penetration for sure without Cesc.
    Wilshere and Ramsey are not ready yet to carry this team in the absence of an experienced leader.

    The ref was appalling. The goals they scored were not the ref’s fault yes. But he denied the chance of us equalising, if not winning by those biased decisions.

    I seem to notice you have a personal dislike for Sczcesny. I don’t think one could blame him for the goals. Gibbs is not that good. yet. He played in the Stoke game too and we all saw what he did, ducking when the ball reached him for Stoke’s first goal. Just one example. We seem a lot weaker defensively when he plays. He needs a loan move to a PL team.
    And Song was not that awful as you said in this game.
    It’s not that Arshavin ‘couldnt offer’ much, he didn’t in fact. His work rate was too low.
    And you go on to say starting Arshavin and Walcott was a mistake by Wenger. Who else does he start then ?! Henderson ?!?

    And btw, Chamack was not involved in anything in the first half. He came on in the second half.

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