Bolton 0 – 0 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

In the preview I wrote, “there will be goals in this game for sure”. I don’t know how, but both sides managed to keep the ball out of their opponents’ nets when scoring would have seemed like the easier option. Arsenal had a lot of chances, very good ones. And they missed them all.

Twitter went mad after the game, as it usually does after a disappointing result I guess. I was too down to find the energy to write about such a performance so I thought it’d be better to go out run some errands, get routine maintenance done on the car just to take my mind off the game for a while.

Even that didn’t help and since Mrs Desi had been busy for a while, we decided to catch a late night movie at the theatre just across the road. The Descendants just lulled me to sleep. I found it even worse than Arsenal’s effort at Bolton and that is saying something. Anyway, the point is these events have delayed the writing of this article by almost a whole day but have also helped me get the negativity out of my system so, hopefully, this should be a balanced review.

The first half-hour was easy for Arsenal and the Gunners should have gone 2 or 3 up in that time. Bolton were giving the players a great deal of time and space in dangerous areas. The movement of Arsenal’s attackers was good as was their passing but the finishing was just awful. Ramsey rushed his shot when in the clear, Oxlade-Chamberlain scuffed one when well-placed, Walcott found a way to hit the goalkeeper’s leg when clean through, and Mertesacker fluffed an easy header when completely unmarked.

I think the easy option here is to blame the players but to me it seemed more of a confidence issue. They were all nervous in front of goal. A string of poor results can do that to the best of players. The issue with such a situation is that it can easily turn into a vicious cycle that is hard to break. Low confidence leads to mistakes, which in turn lead to poor performances and results, and ultimately that lowers the confidence further. Obviously, players at that level try hard to break this but it’s not a switch one can turn on or off. The work rate can be there, the movement can be there, but at the vital moment – in attack or defence – the player might become indecisive or hasty. The difference is in fractions of a second. The composure, the belief, these are intangible qualities that are hard to judge from outside and even tougher to instil. More than anything else I believe Wenger’s biggest task right now is to get the belief back up. Given that we are likely to see a brooding atmosphere for the next home game, which doesn’t give players enough time to rest either, it will now be a significant challenge.

Coming back to the game, after the opening half-hour I thought Bolton did well to drop really deep and narrow. They cut out space behind the defence and that limited Arsenal’s ability to create quality chances. Van Persie still found a way to hit the woodwork twice – first  from a superb cross by Sagna, and then in a solo effort where he created space for himself and chipped the Keeper and the defence from the edge of the box. He recently did exactly that to similar effect in another game, didn’t he? Well, let’s just hope the days of Van Persie hitting the frame in almost every game are not back. This Arsenal side, in its current avatar,  will really struggle to score if RvP can’t find the back of the net.

For their part, Bolton grew into the game after Arsenal’s initial dominance. N’gog, in particular, gave Koscielny a tough time. But it wasn’t until the final 10-15 minutes or so when the hosts really pushed Arsenal back and looked more like the side capable of winning. I thought this resulted from the substitutions that Arsene made which weakened the midfield somewhat. Add the usual tendency of lumping the ball forward under pressure and it played nicely into Bolton’s hands. Arsenal created virtually nothing towards the end barring that Van Persie chip, which really was a solo effort. In contrast, the hosts had a number of good chances.

Understandably, many have regressed to the usual criticism of a lack of transfer activity. People want something to change, which is perfectly valid, but should one’s imagination start and stop with transfers? I, for one, don’t know of any player good enough to improve Arsenal who was available this January. Of course, that is quite likely down to the limited information I have but it’s impossible for me to see the likes of Bobby Zamora or Louis Saha making Arsenal a better side.

As stated above, I think the big challenge for Wenger is to find a way to get this team believing in themselves. And he has to find a way to get more from his wingers and midfielders. It’s a tactical issue. There were some encouraging signs on that front. Oxlade-Chamberlain is clearly working on his off the ball movement. Theo is also getting more involved. Ramsey is getting into good positions. But they need to move up a notch or two and, to an extent, their development will also be linked with the confidence of the side. Furthermore, chopping and changing at this stage will only act as a catalyst to the negative loop.

Fans could play their part but, in the current environment, I don’t have any hopes on that front.

The returns of Sagna and Arteta were encouraging. They are very important to the structure of the team and hopefully their efforts will help others do better.

Individual Performances:

Szczesny: Was shaky and unconvincing throughout the game. Didn’t have to make many saves as most of the times the hosts couldn’t hit the target even when well placed. I thought he did make a good save against Davies late in the game but the commentator insisted it was a penalty. Not sure what to make of that.

Sagna: Had a decent comeback. Put in some good crosses. Good energy on the flank. Mostly strong defensively. But Petrov was able to put in a number of quality crosses from his side so he wasn’t always in positions where he could block them. Part of it came from the fact that Arsenal tend to be too narrow, especially when the ball comes back just after set-pieces. Don’t really blame the defender in this instance but that’s an area where the Gunners have to improve.

Mertesacker: Missed one excellent chance when he could have headed it towards goal from four yards or across the face of goal for Ramsey who was completely free. Had a very good game defensively, won 4 of his 5 ground duels and all 3 aerial duels. Also made a number of vital clearances in the Arsenal box.

Koscielny: Struggled against the strength of N’gog and in reading the flight/bounce of the ball more than once. Also misplaced a number of easy passes. Probably his weakest effort for the Gunners this season.

Vermaelen: Had a lot of work on the left but had a mixed-bag in terms of quality. Won many of his duels and limited the impact Chris Eagles could have in attack. Also went forward regularly and put in some dangerous crosses. But his passing was subpar and led the team in the “Total Loss of Possession” category.

The defenders weren’t too bad as Szczesny didn’t have that many great saves to make but they weren’t always in control of the situation. On another day we could easily have seen Bolton winning this one with a “freak” goal.

Song: Another one who had a bad day at the office. Wasn’t getting into good positions and that allowed Bolton to win many of the second balls uncontested. Passing was poor. Didn’t bring the ball out from defence as often or effectively as he should have. Only won 4 out of his 10 ground duels.

Arteta: Again topped the passing chart, by far. Also joint highest in winning back possession in defence (with Mertesacker) and midfield (with Song). Without Arteta, Arsenal could have lost this game as his positioning and composure was vital to the defence.

Ramsey: A patchy effort from the Welshman. For instance, he made a very good run – that few would have seen – but then couldn’t finish despite receiving a great pass. Work rate was very good and he had almost as many touches as Song despite playing fewer minutes. Passing accuracy was better than many players. But couldn’t offer incision at the top and was also dispossessed more often than others.

I thought Arteta carried the midfield but the other two had a poor game, especially given the amount of space they had. Song was a massive disappointment, Ramsey is still struggling. I strongly believe starting with Rosicky would have been the better option but Wenger can always argue this team could and should have won.

Walcott: His movement was good. For instance, he had to hold the run that got him in behind as Oxlade-Chamberlain was a touch slow with the pass. Also won a number of corners and his passing in the final third wasn’t bad. But finishing let him down more than once as he seems to be suffering from a lack of confidence that comes from getting fewer chances in front of goal.

Oxlade-Chamberlain: Much improved movement from the youngster as he floated all over the pitch. Was very strong in the individual duels when running with the ball. But he is still quite raw. Wasted a number of opportunities to pass and has a tendency to blast from distance that doesn’t help. Had the second lowest passing accuracy among the starting outfield players just above Vermaelen. It would seem the two didn’t link up very well on a consistent basis.

RvP: Head and shoulders above everyone else on the pitch. Created the chances for Ramsey, AOC, and Mertesacker. Also hit the woodwork in excellent displays of movement and technique. Deserved to be on the winning side but just didn’t get enough support from his teammates.

Van Persie was exceptional and the winger’s weren’t bad but this game lacked a player who could utilize the space between the lines in an intelligent, incisive manner. Neither of the wide men were capable of that. They also ran out of ideas once Bolton dropped deep.

Subs: Henry’s movement in and around the box was very, very good. But his overall effort was lackadaisical. Since he didn’t get the ball in the dangerous areas often enough to cause damage, it was his nonchalance in the other areas that will stand out as the lasting memory. Rosicky got very little time on the pitch.

Wenger: It’s tough for the manager to get the side back on track after a poor run of results. In that sense a draw is better than a defeat. In the previous games Arsenal might have conceded at the end but they didn’t do so in this one. He will receive flak for perceived inactivity in the January market but he is wise enough to put that behind him. The next challenge is the most important and the side has to show they know how good they actually are. Hopefully he will find a better balance from the resources available than he did in this game.

Stats used in this article are from EplIndex.


53 Responses to Bolton 0 – 0 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. shrek2be says:

    I don;t think its a lack of confidence that lets Theo down. He simply lacks composure Desi. Have you ever noticed that in many of the goals that Theo has scored ,he has always taken the early shot and surprised the keeper? He doesn’t have the ability to go around a keeper and score.He is an instinctive player but with limited abilities.
    I have to say that Szczesny’s mucking around with the ball in the penalty area is inviting trouble and it will backfire one day. He needs to improve on his kicks and distribution. Chamberlain tries a lot of things & can be wayward in his passing.
    RVP’s lob deserved a goal.

    • James Taunt says:

      It is clear Theo lacks ability. He is a sprinter who cannot score goals on a regular basis, okay as a sub player. He is starting till Gerv comes back.

    • santori says:

      Theo’s problem is that he over -proccesses.

      If he was working on instinct alone, the shot would go in and he would pick out the right option.

      With too much time to think, it simply goes wrong.

      I thought the best option for him was to round the keeper given that speed is his asset.

      Alas, he had too much time on his hand and the end result was tentative to say the least.

    • Dhruv says:

      I understand all above but at the end of the day we lost very important 2 points. We can always have the discussion that who is improving and who is doing what. The one who is responsible for all this is the manager, whether he plays fatigued players or incapable ones.

      The questions are so evident – Why is there no quality in depth? Why has Wenger allowed the team to reach such a level where we have only 11 or 12 okay players. Why play the first team in FA cup if that is the case. Desi already wrote a post about prioritizing EPL over FA and CL.

      With injuries and all, ManU have 54 points. So it feels that these are all excuses, I have to say. Wenger has not been able to correct the deficiencies which are obvious to many and sorry to say his coaching has just deteriorated.

      I like all the Arsenal players but I think additions were needed after Wilshere’s news came, after Santos and Verm got injured, and a good experienced keeper who can keep Chesney on his toes. Now the window has closed, Arsenal has some money in the bank but not enough quality to win remaining matches. 4th place looks a dream now with Liverpool and Chelsey the more likely teams that will be fighting for it.

  2. Alex says:

    Not sure if we where watching the same game.
    It is four games straight that this team is not performing as expected by an Arsenal first team standard.

    The midfield.
    I don`t see any creativity rather than the side/back passing.Ramsey is completely over rated.Yes he is a hard worker and gives not less than 100% but no where near to what is required in Arsenal midfield.This is our first team remember.
    Arteta does not cut it either as this is not Everton.No one is happy by just side passes.A penetrating midfielder is required that is not afraid to go through the middle .A proper dribbler.Since we do not have a player that posses this quality our game is easily read by the opponent team.Gervinhio was a headache on the flanks yes but that useless Walcot is just a sprinter.
    Chamberlain was a constant threat as he was the only player was cutting through that middle park.

    The only striker
    Van Persie because is the only threat they manage to keep him quite.Our game and players are very much one sided and this fantastic striker he already done wonders .
    Henry :No disrespect at all but the guy has well and truly past it.I do not see what we can bring to the team.Motivation at best ?Not even sure about that.
    With this squad we do not deserve the champion league spot and I already made my mind.

    • VanTheManPersie says:

      While all you say maybe true, that doesnt change the fact that this was bolton. You dont a great cesc fabregas or xavi or pirlo to break them down as prove byt eh first half chances. Even fi the creativity is not top notch as it used to be adn we are more workmen like, we are still creatign plenty of chances to win againstt eh likes of bolton. I have said a lot fo tiems that for 4-3-3 can work only if ur wingers/tail of the diamond (ramsey/rosciky) score. To do well u need one 20+ goal scorer adn two other to get into double digits. None of our wingers hleb,rosicky,nasri,walcott,gervinho,eboue(oh lord!),etc have done it and thats why we have struggled. Right about the time hleb came in( he would pass rather than shoot 90% of the time) we are gettign fewer goals from outfield compared to the lyunberg,pires era. Fabregas made up for it in one of the seasons and nasri and arshavin for half the seasons at other times. The truth is in the last 5 years we have missed some of the most gilt edged chances that can ever be created. I was so happy when adebayor left cause he needed 3-4 chances to score one but we have even regressed further after that. I will always support arsenal but this is a very familiar story and one that will coem to bite us. Even wilshere comign back wouldnt not help as he’s still learnign and not yet a proven goal scorer. How many more chances does the midfield need to create?

      And i agree its confidence issue with some but great players can keep theri composyure even when thign are goign touhg. remember van persie’ volley earlie in dec on a bad night? The other arent cutting “edge”. In gervinho’s case its very bad technnique ..he scuffs the ball witht he inside of hsi heals so many times and struggles to gett eh ball more than 5 feet above the groudn because of the same technical problem. those things come from training at an early age…theyc ant be corrected at this level

      • VanTheManPersie says:

        ok I typed all that in a lot of hurry like most of my other rants on this blog but this was by the most horrible one to date. Thank you for tolerating. BTW this is by far the most rational arsenal/football blog and its not just desi but all the other ppl that comment here like santori and Irish gooner. I always look forward to hearing from everyone as much as Desi. There! This time I checked for typos before posting:) I guess, I’m always in a hurry, much like ramsey and walcott. Am still hung over from yesterday and only a 4-0 thrashing of blackburn will cheer me up.

      • RedCore says:

        That is a great point. We know Theo and even Gervinho do not have the technique to be great finishers. Injury has probably removed the edge that Rosicky had. Only AR remains in that list of yours. The lad used to finish well, but hits it straight at the keeper these days.

      • santori says:

        @vanthemanpersie

        You may have hit on to something with regards 4-3-3.

        Again, goes back to my gripe that we are too purist in approach these days and unwilling to consider other tactical set ups that might just work better given certain circumstances.

        Going through traffic against a team sitting back and trying to weather us./hit us on the break, it may be more useful to go 4-4-2, essentially afford our main striker some support (the role behind him can be fluid.

        In that sense, we will also be less dependant on trying to forge either of Ramsey or Rosicky into what they are not, goal scoring advance midfielders.

    • jeff says:

      I agree that Ramsey ‘s overrated.. when you’re talking about first 11 of an Arsenal team,then Ramsey and probably Theo don’t deserve it.. but Arteta is good enough for Arsenal.. he’s very good defensively and offensively,he brings stability.. Ramsey keeps loosing his possession and his passing was nothing,to be honest.. no sharpness and no creativity at all.. he’s far from being a playmaker.. like many,i would like Wenger to pair Rosicky and Arteta instead of Ramsey.. what can Rosicky do with that very little time.. the subs,in my opinion should be on by Half Time and not later than 60th min.. if he wants to rest Rosicky,then why didnt he try Yossi in Ramsey position..?

      • santori says:

        I’m not sure if he is overated. He is still learning.

        I think his strong suit is his vision, ability to pick a pass.

        OTOH, I do feel (somewhat like Walcott), he lacks an edge to his game.

        They are both way tooo nice.

        This is particularly evident in his defensive game.

        Me thinks both these lads could do with a bit of mix martial arts training, bring out a bit more aggression to their game.

      • boyo says:

        @ Santori

        Ramsey doesnt pick many passes at all! He is more a Gerrard type extra attacker and here his vision is good but at the moment his finishing poor. He may still be learning but that is costing us a lot of games.

      • jeff says:

        I agree.. Ramsey didn’t pick many passes at all,as always.. No through ball and ,no creativity.. Were we watching diff games??
        He couldn’t link the game.. He’s learning at arsenal costs.. He should have learn from the bench and cup games and not from the league..

  3. Everybody.Calm.The.Folk.Down says:

    We have a lot of very good players that are injured, that is all..buying whoever was available or looks good is not the answer as we dont want to buy players to pressure them and turn em into a Carroll, Torres, Gea, Dzeko etc…also debt can kill a team..valencia sold silva and villa to avoid bankruptcy..Wenger’s tactics are also not part of the problem because he specializes in offense management just like Mourinho specializes in defense management..therefore a better defensive coach is needed, someone who know how to make our defenders better

    • RedCore says:

      Defensively we are much better this season whenever Arteta has been around (He was not in the 3 match losing streak). It is the offense which failed the team this time. The question really is about squad depth I think. Last season at one point AW changed about half the team in a midweek game against Wigan and lost. This time he is starting with the same team week in week out. Is it because of a lack of belief in the squad or he wants to take as little risk as possible?

      I do not know the answer to that, but we need some of the other players to find their shooting boots. If Theo or AR can step up and deliver then we will be fine.

      • santori says:

        We really should have bought a player this January.

        And that player had to be a striker.

        As I mentioned before the game, this could come back to haunt us in the summer market, especially (and this is a bigger possibility now) IF we do not qualify.

        There are a number of strikers (useful out wide) who albeit slightly overpriced would still show good will to us and could be convinced to join our cause now.

        I am thinking Podolski and Leandro Damiao.

        IF we don’t get in ‘top 4’ this summer, we will not only have to replace the ill firing Chamakh, Arhsarvin, the non consequential Park but maybe also RVP.

        Now ask yourself the question who could we get who would like to play Europa league and whom we could snap up for less than top dollar then?

  4. Wenger says:

    We will find out at the end of the season that the only loser who could not score against Bolton is Arsenal..

  5. Shahr says:

    So kuper says Wenger is one of the best managers. The table doesn’t lie.Granted the fm may not have spent sent as much and hitting or punching above his weight. I am afraid that’s here all comparisons end.
    What about Moyes and Pardew who have done reasonably welll on a limited budget.The fm is too arrofant to change his way and believes he will ultimately be correct. The problem is he will drag down Arsenal when proven wrong.
    I am afarid the writing’s on the wall.He is deluded if he thinks he can finsh fourth.I will be over the moon if he can prove me wrong.

    • santori says:

      If he finishes outside the top 4, the script might just write itself.

      What worries me is that we are not prepared for the contingency of Wenger’s departure.

      All the more reason why I thought it best that he revamp the coaching staff (specialist attack, and defense coach) in part as an exercise to groom from within if need be.

      OTOH, I don’ think you can compare Wenger to Moyes or Pardew.

      from where we came from (when he took over), he has grown our income and won us several titles along the way with limited resources.

      Sorry but that is a bit disingenuous still.

      • Dhruv says:

        It is very difficult to tell an old man to change his ways. Ideally he should graciously step down himself and Arsenal should have someone new. But the problem is that the new manager may ask for wholesale changes and for this the management may needs to fork out lot of money. Is the board ready for this? I doubt!

  6. Chinke Chikezie says:

    Well! well!! well!!! I agree with Shrek2be on Walcott, i think he needs to be relaxed in front of goal. He has developed in recent times – in his control, timing and runs, but he needs to be calm in front of goal and also improve in his shooting. He has been doing something i have been wishing Arsenal wing players to be doing; that is run flat behind defenders. It opens up defenders a lot and can easily break an offside trap if well managed, just like he did against Bolton, but lost composure in front of keeper. I have taking time to watch Barcelona over and over again and thats exactly what they do. If Arsenal can do that more often from both wings they will not only open the opponents defense but also create more chances and possibly score more goals.

    Chamberlain, great guy, wonderful confidence, surely takes on defenders but, he should learn to run on defenders from behind and he will do a better finishing job than Walcott.

    Like i have always said Arsenal players needs to be close to each other so as to keep possession well. They have been playing far apart and using long balls and this is not working. They need to pass the ball a lot faster especially at the final third. Arteta should also try to get involve inside the opponents box more often, although he has been doing a wonderful job in ball distribution and also ball winning. Thumbs up boy. I will like Rosciky to pair more with Arteta and Song in the middle, he is sharper than Ramsey, only that Ramsey gets into the opponents box more than any of the midfielders. He is more attack conscious.

    To talk of Rosciky what happened to his shootings? He does not shoot anymore, like when he joined Arsenal. Come on brother get back to the old days. I believe with all this Arsenal will get back to their attacking game and RVP will have a lot of room to operate.

    • santori says:

      As desi mentioned, there were tired legs out there and I’m not sure either if the line up was entirely correct.

      Song was poor.

      Our midfield was enemic. Our closing down when the ball was lost was slow to say the least and not inconcert with each other.

      I didn’t think that the Rosicky substitution was the right one.

      Yes it may have risked a further chorus of boos but I thought we may have done better with (hold your breath) Arsharvin on the pitch and switching centrally with Henry.

      Of course this is all hind sight.

      Bottom line is we didn’t seem fired uup enough.

      Arseblog mentions that Wenger is fond of making assertions that we would finish stronger than Bolton (hence the patient build up game)

      From what I saw, the reverse was true. We were visibly tired toward the end of the match (especially after Rosicky came on)

      Perhaps Coquelin should have come on as well (for Song). At very least there would have been a more energetic pair of legs to chase and harry.

  7. Tim says:

    Desi, you are wrong that no player available in January would improve us. Pappis Cisse for 10 million euros went to Newcastle.Surely we can offer more than Newcastle. He would have definitely made us better. Sow went to Turkey for I don’t know how much money.I had a third player in mind but I already forgot who he was.Shinji Kagawa will most likely n

    • Tim says:

      I did not finish my post.I did not want to send it.Stupid iPod! So I was saying Kagawa will most likely not renew his contract so Dortmund will want to sell him in the summer. The third one I had in mind now I remember is Lucas Barrios.He would have come in January if we had made a bid.

      • James Taunt says:

        I agree. Wenger was responsible for bringing Park in Summer and he has just not played, leave alone scoring. Wenger tried to correct that by bringing Henry on loan in January. Henry is now past his prime and could play only about half an hour in a week (since this is EPL and not MLS). Wenger could have added another striker as a back up when Henry leaves but did not. Chamakh is just not up to it and there is nobody good enough in the team to score a goal except for RVP. AOC does shoot and will come up with occasional goal but it is not right to depend on him totally.

      • santori says:

        Spurs were trying to make a move for Leandro.

        Abit overpriced (in the end they settled for Adebawhore) but he brings to us several capabilities as hitherto unrealised by Chamakh and lost to Henry.

        He is quick, strong in the air, physical (just shy of 6’2), consistent (in Brasil at least) and 22 (which is a good stop gap between RVP and the younger generation in Campbell, BUnjaku)

        If not, Podolski was well worth it even if we had to pay slightly over the odds.

        Either men would have given us good alternative up front but also options out wide.

        Poor decision not to spend in January because even IF we do make it to Top 4, I think we should be keeping the bulk of the transfer kitty then for a truly ‘exceptional player’ in the category of Hazard (and yes at somewhat slightly over our comfort zone in price terms), to keep our best asset RVP.

        Otherwise it will be last summer again only worse.

  8. cupsui says:

    One word: FINISHING

    get in the training park and practice lads, confidence and composure from ramsey and walcott needs to improve. But the chances are there so the results will come

    come on gooners!!

    • santori says:

      Which is why the coaching set up needs revision.

      I’ve been saying this for 2-3 seasons now.

      Common mistakes have been repeated at tedium and others have been rectified only after lengthy damage conceded.

      I think Wenger could revitalise his tactics with the appropriate Carlos Queiroz of his choice (of course easier said than done as it is dependant on personalities)

      OTOH, he could also easily make a half step and bring in a couple of demi-coaches (talented ex players so to speak) to work on :

      1) Attack/finishing
      2) Defense (in concert)

      It would at very least allow him to grrom an eventual successor from within but otherwise provide him additional support and attention to common ailments.

      As Desi has mentioned over 2-3 games now, we keep seeing us defending crosses to narrowly. As a result, our ‘makeshift’fullbacks (or Arsharvin)are left on their own.

      Why has it aken us so long to rectify this?

  9. Charlie says:

    Put a fit Jack Wilshere in place of Ramsey and one top quality attacking transfer in place of Walcott and you have a good team. That’s the most annoying thing about this team, it’s just one or two top signings away from being in contention. Also need backup for RvP but that’s another story. Walcott has had enough chances in my opinion. I can’t see him making any dramatic improvements now so it’s time to move him on. He’d do well in a team like Villa that plays on the break a lot.

    • santori says:

      Very well said.

      I think we :

      1) Need our fullbacks back.
      2) Need one more midifleder back to give Song and Arteta some respite (or Coquelin has to step up)
      3) Two more players. One good striker and one technical wizard on the wings to eventually replace Arsharvin (Eden Hazard class)

      Surely we can afford it? But one of the purchases should have been done and dusted now.

      • AP says:

        Arshavin to anzhi could open the possibility to compete for Hazard, if Arsenal can negotiate Anzhi to pay substantially, which is also not an impossibility. Unless a 5th or worse finish screws things up “ambition” wise.

  10. Gary Murray says:

    What about Zamora moving RVP to the hole? Zamoras strenght and vision is excellent and he holds the ball up as well as anyone in the league bar perhaps drogba. with knocking balls down to RVP we could solve a lot of our scoring problems and change to an attacking formation rather than leaving Robin isolated way too often. All this for 5mil and we could not go in for him? I cannot take another season of Walcott and Arshavin putting in shifts at 50%. Two of the softest players in the EPL Really disappointing. Ramsey looks tired but you cannot question his commitment and effort. He will come we good and most of all he fights! Great to see Sagna back-the best RB in the league

    • santori says:

      Tactically, we should also have it in our ability to ‘accomodate’ two strikers especially late on in the game (when there be need to throw in the proverbial kitchen sink)

      In that sense, we actually should have some ability at our disposal in supporting RVP better centrally.

      I think Arsharvin is not suited out wide because he has slowed due to age. He would be more useful creating chances through the middle.

      Lest we forget, yes add him to the misfiring brigade but he is one of the few players who isn’t afraid to have a good go from distance 9which is whay’s needd to open up space for RVP)

      Ditto with Chamakh up front.

      I have a feeling the Morrocan will be better if supported.

      With the way some teams drop off against us, it isn’t impossible for us to hold with two midfielders (provided of course some speed isreturn to the fullback positions in support)

  11. kc says:

    The problem is the creativity and cohesiveness of the midfield. Ramsey, for all his talent and drive, does not have IT. We should buy someone or for the rest of the season play Rosicky.
    Most lower level team had learnt to play against us. having a line of defender and midfielders to counter our passing and penetration thru the centre. However, with the introduction of true wingers this and their continuing improvement, I think they will have to rethink their strategy.

    • santori says:

      Rosicky wasn’t terribly effective yesterday.

      By the time he came on, we were playing tennis with Bolton.

      As someone mentioned earlier, this is BOlton we’re playing. We should have sufficient ability to beat them.

      But the other ting that eats into confidence is bad tactics.

      I’m not claiming to know where all the issues are (Desi is better placed to write a piece on this) but Wenger IMO as good a manager (and spotter of talent) that he is, is not the best in maing critical adjustments within a game and certainly not in a timely manner. He seems rather fixed these days.

      • Dhruv says:

        Rosicky played well over last 2 matches but against Bolton must be tired. So he could not contribute. I think he is a good back up player and can help retain possession but not consistent enough to be fist choice.

      • jeff says:

        Nothing rosicky could do in just a few mins.. It’s way too late.. U can’t expect a player to give a real contribution in that very little time.. He just had around 5 mins out of 10,or maybe less in such a ” tenis game” circumstances.. But what if he starts first instead of ramsey.. Why is wenger afraid to try yossi if he thinks rosicky is still tired..?

  12. Charlie says:

    I’ve had a moment of clarity this morning. All this time I was thinking how Wenger has done brilliantly for the amount of money spent on transfers and then I had a look at the wages. Blimey there’s some serious wasting of fans’ money there. Arsenal pay almost as much on wages as United. I know i’m not the first to say this but what a waste paying players like Almunia, Squillaci, Park, Chamakh, Gibbs, Diaby, Denlison, Bendtner, Walcott and Arshavin such massive wages, not to mention what the youngsters must be earning. I wonder how much the new kid from Dortmund is getting, ot all the kids signed from Barcelona.

    • santori says:

      The problem being that the way the market is these days, if you don’t spend the money locking your younger players down with decent wages, they get nicked.

      It’s not easy to predict if an Oxlade Chamberlain or a Walcott or a Diaby for that matter may come good later.

      But imagine to furor over say Ox being lured away to one of the nouveau riche clubs?

      Retaining players is a key issue and many of the non-performing players were ‘locked in’ when their performance was on the up.

      It’s symptomatic of the times and a necessary evil for us to keep competitive with the likes of City and such who can afford to pay Nasri twice as much!

      But it creates it’s own problems in that we are now face with the difficulty of trying to rid ourslevs of a half dozen players nobody wants because of high wages.

      The situation isn’t as easy as it looks to resolve. The players and their agents are also involved (aside from the clubs) and we are not the brightest prospect to be part of these days.

      The only player we have thus far added successfully in January is a Dortmund reject who is injury prone.

      • Dhruv says:

        Well Santori, what happens when a young player does not match his evaluation and turns out to be a dud. Will you find a buyer for him? For every Oxo, there is a Denilson.

        It is simple, do not pay over the top for young players, you are only spoiling them. But if some of them turn out to be superstars, they need to be retained. Arsenal are the fifth richest club in the club, they can afford to retain a couple of stars.

    • Dhruv says:

      You are right Charlie, Arsenal do have a very high wage bill so Arsenal are indeed spending money but only average talent.

      Also you do not want to pay youngsters too much unless they are established stars. Now Theo want 90kpw, only he know why he deserves that amount.

  13. Charlie says:

    If I may just add one more thing, I think i’ll cry if Walcott gets offered another contract at Arsenal on even more money than he’s earning now. See his contract expiring as an opportunity to get him off the books.

    • santori says:

      We need to thread delicately here.

      We face the prospect of being out of Top 4 this summer.

      If this happens, we would be more than happy to keep Walcott on the books because we will certainly not be attracting some of the more top calibre names that you might think of to replace him.

      • Charlie says:

        Any idea when the contracts of Bendtner, Denilson, Almunia, Chamakh, Park, Arshavin, Squillaci, Diaby and Djourou expire ? Let’s hope it is soon.

  14. santori says:

    Bright side : Sagna back. Aretat back. Ox looks useful if rough.

    RVP still looks inventive. Gibbs and Santos are back in training.

    Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle can still be caught given their repsective erratic form.

    But we have to pull our heads out of our arse very quickly.

    Wenger is fond of giving the players too many excuses. A good kick up the arse will do nicely thank you monsieur.

    (PS : Anyone notice Chris Foy forgot to bring his whistle to the match?):D

  15. ben says:

    fire wenger. . .he may be the greatest manager for arsenal but he will not be great all the time whilist in arsenal. . .he really lost his touch, determination & guts. . .it’s time to move on. . .fire him!!!

  16. Charlie says:

    Santori you make some very good points. It is a symptom of paying low for transfers that you will be stuck with players who are being paid too much if you want to compete for wages but is this not a false economy ? Let’s say you spend 15m on a player instead of 3m with wages of 60k a week for 5 years for both players. One player costs you 30m, the other 18m so neither is cheap but the 3m player is quite likely to be of very little use to you (Park or Chamakh). The other will sell shirts and bring you more success hence paying back much of his fee and other clubs will want to buy him. The situation now is that the team may struggle to get back into the top four because too many players aren’t contributing but the wage bill won’t go down for a while because nobody will buy those players and pay them those wages. If more had been spent on players in the first place not only would the team be unlikely to be in this situation but the chances of them being sellable assets if the top 4 wasn’t achieved would be much greater. I suppose my point is that the board claim that they have been ensuring the clubs’ financial security when in fact their actions have been financially reckless. They have been buying liabilities rather than assets, as a financial analyst might say.

  17. Dhruv says:

    I saw the highlights and Arsenal did fashion chances but Theo and Ramsey could not finish them. We may want to wish them away but they are going to stay as Wenger does not have replacements. They are yound and will improve along the way (at least I think Ramsey will improve) but at what cost? how may lost points? Kos was owned by Ngog as never before in this season. In such a case, TV could have moved to CB if we had a decent LB available.

    Overall I am disappointed by the result and I am beginning to believe that the FA cup victory over Aston Villa was more of a fluke.

  18. ignatzuk says:

    I don’t understand those people claiming that squad depth is the problem. Left-back and Gervinho aside, we had our first team out there against Bolton. The Ox was the only real squad player, and he had one of the better performances.

    As Desi says, the issue is players like Song, Ramsey, Walcott – the established first-teamers who are just out of rhythm at the moment.

    When these players are playing well, we have one of the best midfields in the country.

    I do worry for Ramsey, he’s being asked to do too much in this formation, and I hope that his development isn’t suffering. I’d like to see Rosicky get some more starts..

  19. boyo says:

    I feel the one buy that still gives me faith in old Wenger was Gervinho. He was a steal and he is getting better and better! I think Wenger will work on his finishing and we may have a great on our hands.

    Mertesaker is also improving and if we could add a top class creative midfielder we may be near the top again. The problem is Wengers love of Diaby, who he thinks will fix all our problems if he ever plays again

  20. barbes13 says:

    i think the younger players on the attack was little bit disappointing. but nevertheless, it just a matter of time they will improved tremendously. i miss Gervinho who would assist RVP up front with the goal scoring. wenger need to be more cautious with Ramsey i think he’s has exerted more pressure on this young lad then expected. arsenal need more of a T.R. then Ramsey in midfield in certain technical games.
    looking at the among of players on the side line injured or on loan, wenger should not give up on this current side, i see the nearest future potential in them and very soon arsenal will start to win trophy again.

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