Sunderland 2 – 0 Arsenal: Belated Thoughts

This is depressing. Even when I was mentally prepared for a bad result that performance was just too hard to take. Even though I believe Arsenal would be better of not competing in the Cups, the manner of defeat has been excruciating. For the last couple of days I just kept away from the internet and any football news. Despite that, it’s not easy to write this.

I don’t want to go into any kind of an analysis of the game or the individuals. It was something we have seen in the past often enough; opponents working hard to chase the ball – all credit to them for that, scoring from one shot on target, Arsenal not getting a penalty, struggling to create much otherwise, conceding another on a counter-attack.

It’s really hard to pin-point what went wrong and it just seems safer to say everything did. Oddly enough, the players who got injured – Coquelin, Squillaci, and Ramsey – were not the ones who’d been overworked in recent weeks. I guess the Gunners are just not getting a break right now.

Wenger did go with a strong side but even that didn’t help. Both managers touched upon the midweek exertions in their own way and it clearly had an impact. There could be an argument that Arsene should have played some of the more fresher players. For instance, RvP anyway didn’t get any support/service in this game, how much worse could Chamakh have done? Maybe his presence could have given Arsenal a different option, who knows.

Then again, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gervinho couldn’t do much in this game. Walcott has been an easy target this season but such games show Theo isn’t always the problem. For all the hype around him, AOC never looked like he could do much against such a well-organized defensive unit. The point, of course, isn’t to criticize the youngster but just to show that change in personnel doesn’t always work.

That is all the more relevant in the case of Arsenal where the system of play is the biggest strength. When that fails or the opponents counter it well with their stifling tactics, everything else seems to fall apart. The defence looks very poor, the attack toothless, and the midfielders appear to be a bunch of clueless amateurs chasing the ball.

It is here that Arsene has to find a plan B. When the passing game isn’t working as well and the opponents are consistently threatening on the break after incessant, synchronized pressing, why can’t Arsenal sit back deep in their own half and absorb the pressure? Why doesn’t a side blessed with so much pace (Walcott, Gervinho, and AOC can probably match the quickest players of any side in the League) know the way to use it against a side that is willing to come out? Would the result have been different if Arsenal had the ability to start the game with a predominantly counter-attacking approach?

Then there are the usual observations. Why do set-pieces and crosses from Arsenal result in so many counter-attacks? Why is it that the opponents have only one shot on target but end up with 2 goals!? Why do the freak goals keep on coming? Why are many of the usually reliable players seemingly losing the plot at the same time?

These aren’t new issues so I don’t want to dwell on them. I am just writing this to get it off my chest. Apologies to those who came here looking for a balanced piece. This time I just can’t do it.

Arsene has a week to sort out some of the issues in training. After that the Gunners have a few big games in quick succession. Such efforts can easily see a string of defeats pile up. Thankfully, it isn’t all about individual players and so there is scope for improvement. The strong run in the final months of last year wasn’t a fluke. It can be repeated. But it won’t be easy for Le Boss.

Enough said. You’ve probably moved on from the game or have suffered just as much. So I don’t want to bring the memories back. Thanks for reading this belated rant.


43 Responses to Sunderland 2 – 0 Arsenal: Belated Thoughts

  1. war'ren gunz says:

    shocking to say the least

  2. msl says:

    Why can’t we do a plan B? I have said this a thousand times and so have others. We got chewed up and spit out. Wenger’s stubbornness is on my tits.

    • santori says:

      No wonder we performed that badly if Wenger’s spending time on your tits.:D

      I’m not sure if this is the most effective juncture to implement plan B. We should have had this drilled and tested ages ago.

      One idea would be to have Chamakh involved in the traditional strength of his which we have so far neglected seems signing him on – aerial ability.

      For this to work, I would prefer Coquelin out right at FB (Sadly now not an option. and perhaps Arsharvin left.

      The other way would be to have Arsharvin (yes our other misfiring player) play support to CHamakh.

      Or we could have Chamakh up front with RVP roaming and still retain the ability for an Arsharvin out left to throw in some useful pin point crosses.

    • Dhruv says:

      Lol msl..thats true. Even Desi has repeated about the need for plan B countless times. BTW, do not get too much stressed out. Football is a game. We have an experienced manager who has to take all the responsibility, if he starts worrying he should be bald by now. Take a chill pill.

    • spurs_idiot says:

      plan B should be to revert to the 4-4-2 formation with an extra striker…Play gervinho there or maybe even chamakh….Have 4 players in the middle of the park and maybe we wont be so battered !!!!!

  3. Aussie Jack says:

    Plan `B`? shit, we don`t even have a plan `A`….My concern is for the up and coming players like Wilshere, Jenkinson, Yennaris, Ox-Chamberlain, Szczesny, Myiachi and Coquelin . What effect is this going to have on them and their development? Ox makes his debut and gets done 8-2, then comes a string of small loses, then kicked out of Europe 4-0, then kicked out of the FA Cup not by City, United or Liverpool but by Sunderland (no disrespect intended).
    Next Tottenham….oh! boy. Reason? We don`t have the talent.
    I can well imagine Ox-C`s dad saying to himself “why the hell didn`t I let him go to United”.

  4. disu says:

    I’m a big fan of your blog,always looking forward to your post,I share your pain,guess I feel as bad,one word”pathetic”

  5. Yang says:

    I don’t think it is strange thing to be beaten by Sunderland. Look at the table, their goal difference indicate they are probably 5th-7th best team at least. Tired leg come in to play for sure.

    Defeats from cup game are not worrying things, this can happen for any teams, Problem is that Arsenal looks like become poorer as season go.

    I am thinking about what Arsene saying, He think top four position should be considered as trophy for Arsenal, If you think about club made money from transfer, keep sold best players to rival club, I guess his word make some sense which mean Arsenal is not anymore title chasing club.

    I think that owner of club should make hard decision. Arsene cannot conjure the bread from rubble, he is not a god. Put some money and raise wage for few good players or Just let fan know they does not want to invest and do not mind mid-table club position.

    • santori says:

      The worse part is that any modicum of progress we have made thanks to Henry’s loan spell has all but evaporated.

      We had Henry on a short loan.

      We have two back up strikers who seemingly can’t deliver (or are not allowed to)

      We know that there is a contract situation with RVP this summer regardless.

      We may need money available to make a play for a suitable ‘fantasy winger’ this summer to convince the certain striker with an outsanding contract issue that we are still relevant and aiming to chase a title.

      Why did we not move for a striker in Jan?

      We now face possible ommission from the CL which will make our pickings even slimmer this summer.

      We now need to replace our striker back up(s), the winger and possibly even our prize asset striker, thereby spreading the butter even thinner on the toast, and affecting the quality we might be able to bring in further.

      The phrase “Pennywise Pound foolish” does come to mind.

  6. Chinke Chikezie says:

    I think we are all feeling the same way, don’t really know what to talk about right now. It looks like the old trend is back again and If that is anything to go by, it means that the fourth spot is not realistic after all. What i mean is that we all know Arsenal’s history when ever we go out on a cup double simultaneously it also comes with series of BAD, TERRIBLE League runs, which normally takes Arsenal from first or second spot to fourth spot. But now that Arsenal is in Fourth spot where will it take them to – God Knows.

    My prayer is for Arsenal to have great results in their next two games, at least that can build their confidence back, more especially with the kind of opponents the will be facing. It will surely decide their season, but i’m really scared about their morale right now.

    I hope Wenger really learn this time from this season, because my history as an Arsenal supporter, i have never seen it this bad.

    • santori says:

      You know what they say about not being able to teach old dogs new tricks. Yet there is hope when one remembers Sir Alex realised his deficiencies against us and brought in one Carlos Quieroz to reinvent his tactics.

      It takes a very big man indeed to do that though…

  7. neo says:

    “I am being critised by Nobody” what crap mr wenger, you are just a moron, for you fans are idoits… , nobodies….
    arsenal board is a frikin money minded useless…. group of waste bodies…. throw theses people 6 six years of debacle…for them now also nothing…………..

  8. FoolishgooNer says:

    It is what it is: Opponents press and counter attack us because of our positioning! Our full backs are so far up the pitch it is inviting (space)…. Offensively, we miss the genious of Cecs, ball retention ability of Nasri/Diaby and starting attacks. We miss the fight of Wilshere, we play too similar players in midfield (Ramsey/Arteta even Risicky). We have lost the balance of the team….. Robin doesn’t get enough service. When he does he likes the ball to his feet from deep! That eliminates near post far post runs (most basic football offense). We get nothing from crosses/corners because we have rarely have anyone there (Arshavin cross Henry finish.. GK couldn’t come out b/c Arshavin threat to come in with the ball… Six yard box Henry was there to finish.) it is all wrong now… I will be happy if we beat the spuds at home..

    • santori says:

      You hit home a point with the fact that we do miss that player in the middle of the park who can hold the ball under pressure and carry it forward.

      Arteta is good at holding but he doesn’t quite motor forward as effectively, it simply isn’t his game.

      Song has some purpose going forward but we also know that given his crucial role screening, it also carries consequence for us.

      Rosicky has of late been better and more robust making space for us and driving forward as best as he can.

      Ramsey has been poor.

      The two players that carry the ball forward well for us are missing. Jack and yes Diaby.

      The sort of combatative players that could compliment what we have when facing robust challenges from Sunderland.

      In the absence of these players, the next best thing for us to spread play quickly and out wide to the wings. We were too measured (again) and ponderous today.

      There is something to be learnt from the way United spread the ball from one side of the pitch (hate to say the word “long ball”) to the other effeciently.

  9. Dele says:

    All will be well: AMEN

  10. Your post was a good read desi. Really captured my thoughts after what has been a dreadful week. All we can hope for now is a strong showing in the Derby to bear us comfort for past misdemeanors by this ‘mentally strong’ team. Although basing the spurs game on our current form I’d say success might be highly unlikely.

    • Dhruv says:

      Spuds should a high-intensity game. Even if the team is beaten it will give a good account of itself, I am sure about that. What will happen to the intensity level after that game is what I am not entirely sure. Will this season come off at seams like last season, we will find out.

  11. Gerry Lennon says:

    Yep, I’m with you there. I had a computer crash on Wednesday and missed the fall out from that one, and have been ducking a few more since Saturday.
    Two quick points. Was Plan A the right one in Milan? If not(and I do think not), why was it repeated against Sunderland … when they watched the Milan game?
    More worrying, is now that teams know how to beat our Plan A, as it will not be lost on Tottenham or Chelsea that with 3 defensive midfielders you kill our supply line for pacy wingers putting in crosses?? Oh! Sorry,have I let the cat out of the bag?
    The way Sunderland set up is how I wanted it to be in Milan, but that could have gone equally wrong if Coquelin did his hamstring there though?
    I think players accommodating the system(4-3-3), rather than the system playing to the individual strengths is what DB was referring to when he said we are ‘predictable’. It then becomes too easy for a team form a plan to stop us?
    Yes, it might have been different if Coquelin had lasted the 90 minutes, as he could play the long cross-field ball as AOC has done on occasions. Different if we got an early goal? One could also ask what division are Bolton in with their loan signing??
    It’s all history now.
    The way forward, if we are to go forwards? is to play the remaining fit players in positions best suited, even if it means drafting in the other promising youngsters in like Yennaris, Ozyakup, and Afobe when he is fully recovered, at the expense of those who are not capable of fulfilling their ability in any position at the moment … I leave you to fill in your own list there!
    At least they will be up for Sr Harry’s(only a matter of time if the press have their way?) boys, Whether we have a Plan B remains to be seen?

    • santori says:

      We are predictable not because of 4-3-3.

      We are predictable because :

      1) We like to over complicate things and short pass our way forward even when the pitch is poor and the opponents are well organised to sit deep on us. Thereby, we have surrendered our ability to off balance them.

      2) We like to clear the ball back into the danger area without anyone ready to attack the second ball.

      3) We tend not to shoot from distance unless we are into the last 5 minutes.

      4) We have an inexplicable inability to field someone up front and use him for his best asset, his aerial strength,

      That said, a 4-4-1-1 I feel would suit us particularly with teams who do park the bus and await a counter attack.

      This will still entail that we spread the ball quickly out wide to off balance the opponent but the extra man up top could help us ‘vary our approach’ in also going direct into the box if need be rather than always searching for a slide rule pass to unlock the defense.

      But 4-3-3 will work if movement is quicker.

      The other issue with the game I had (perhaps because of tired legs) was that many of the players were waiting for something to happen.

      There was far too little creative running off the ball in particular in support of the wingers.

      Where as once we had players available to always play a triangle out wide, against Sunderland, the wingers were essentially left to beat their man (Sometimes 2-3)

      Predictable then? Yes back to bad habits of recent years.

      • WafflingWenger says:

        I’m sorry and I don’t mean to be derogatory or inflammatory here but this post screams armchair expert to me & despite our current low I strongly disagree with the sentiment.

        Arsenal (under Wenger) play in a certain way & that will never change while he is at the club. This is not stubbornness, it is simply the way he thinks football should be played & really, who are we to disagree with that? Think about all the great managers and great clubs and they all have a recognisable, steadfast commitment to a distinct philosophy. Aside from point 2 (which I would call a repetition of individual rather than systematic error) these points all run counter to Arsenal’s philosophy.

        Arsene will never encourage direct, long balls into the strikers head (Daglish), he will never encourage the relinquishment of possession cheaply through hail mary long shots (Daglish), he will never encourage single minded diagonal long balls out wide (ManUtd), he will never encourage reactive & counterattacking tactics (too many to name, but Benitez and Mourinho are good examples). And I for one remain glad and thankful.

  12. santori says:

    PAINFUL!

    Even more painful to watch. Extremely painful that I’ve found myself hardcore enough to pay the Arsenal website two and a half bobs just to see where we went wrong.

    As Desi mentions, it’s rather hard to pinpoint.

    The usual scapegoats certainly cannot be faulted, to a point. So here are a couple of points to take note of IMO :

    1)Squillaci wasn’t terribly poor but has an aura of bad luck in him in that the first goal ricocheted off him. Having said that, how many times have we seen us rush our clearances back into the danger area without anyone asigned or ready to pick up the second ball.

    Common error number one : Never been addresssed.

    2)Ramsey was for me ineffective and at times bordering on callous with the ball. BUt the entire midfield seem to struggle getting the ball forward from the back The introduction of Rosicky (whom I thought should have started) helped somewhat.

    However I think it symptomatic of us that we fall back to bad habits and take way too long to reansition ourselves when we win the ball from defense to attack. With Sunderland pressing us high up, the pitch a complete mess and the availability of a couple of truly pacy wingers on our wings to exploit, we opted instead to short pass up field affording Sunderland plenty of time to reorganise andclose space down.

    Common error number two : I thought we had banished this one with Blackburn but it seems to have crept back to our repetoire.

    3) Whilst we were unfortunate with Gibbs being unavailable (for whatever reason)…perhaps he was afraid of the murderous pitch which has now claimed 4 of our players…..Coquelin at LB seemed unavoidable. Yet I would have thought it better that the better fullback (and more experienced) played on the unfavoured side leaving the rookie Le Coq at RB where he has played before.

    In any case the pitch claimed him soon enough and we had TV out left. Now here’s where I thought we may have had a chance to switch things around further forward.

    Being that we are a seemingly generous team at the back able to offer the opponents a goal on their first shot at goal, it would seem to me doubly imperative that we carried a threat with our play going forward, which we did for a short spell in the first half before the sucker punch.

    OTOH, as I recall we seem to have once again shot ourselves in the foot this Jan since we opted for the short loan of Henry instead of looking for a permanet solution to our striker back up issue. The same thing happen last season when we awaited Vermaelen’s return and then ran straight into thee CBack crisis we seem to be fondly repeating again this season.

    So, were we one Henry away from turning this game around? Or perhaps we forget the provider for that goal against Sunderland last, Arsharvin, the sort of ineffective player we needed who seems to have the key to unlock tight sitting defenses.

    Playing Gervinho certainly seem to be a good option but young Chamberlain showed his inexperience all game long. Those recetly clamouring for him to start at all cost take note, he seems to have strikingly similar issues to Walcott against the parked bus.

    Would it not had been better for us to have had Arsharvin in to provide that one ball we so clearly needed that our young wingers for all their zip, hard work and energy are so clearly less capable of?

    Wenger threw on Walcott in a central supporting striker role lurking in between RVP and the wingers. Would not this area of the pitch be better suited to the craft and guile of the little Russian?

    Hindsight yes but you do wonder sometimes why Wenger insist on pplaying certain players ahead of others when they have so clearly demonstrated a sufficient efficiency at unlocking the very same defense we found ourselves arrayed against.

    All in all, this leaves us with a lot to ponder.

    I am fearful that this will carry through and that we have created an inevitable self-realised tradition of disintergrating during the Spring thaw (This season seems ‘early’)

    More importantly I do feel that this will have major repercussions for us in the summer as is.

    Before this match I would have thought that our cahnces of holding onto our one prize asset in RVP was hanging bby a thin thread following the MIlan Mauling.

    My guess would be that we would have had to fulfill 3 key points :

    1) Finish 4th or better.
    2) Win the FA cup
    3) Go above our cofort zone (say up to 10m over) and get us one marquee top signing that would signal our intent for the future in a “Hazard class winger”.

    Clearly we have now forgone pooint 2, point 1 looks a bit of an ask. Point 3 also unlikely.

    Therefore, be prepared I’m afraid for another interesting summer.

    I said it before that Wenger made IMO a crucial error in not grabbing imself at very least a suitable striker back up to RVP in January when we still had some goodwill in the market. We now face the prospect of not even making top 4 and if that comes to past, don’t expect us to have on offer even as generous an array of ‘panic buys’ as we had last summer.

    It’s a slippery slope thereafter (Ask Liverpool), and in particular if we have to stick to financial principals without ant of unbridled benefactor.

    I hate to say this but you could see the pain in Wenger’s eyes, his reponses (more defensive than need be), his posture.

    I’m not sure if there is much remedy to prescribe either other than the usual on offer now which is for the players to “play with passion”

    We did play hard against SUnderland. But the little details is where as they say, the devil is and it is the little details where United have excelled upon where as we have given short rift, covered up the cracks till now because Wenger has bought so terribly well in years past allowing us to punch above our weight.

    But the market has changed.

    The league has several clubs with massive disposable income we can’t even come close to copeting with. The Market knowledge is more flat and open.

    We are therefore beginnning to struggle to sign on those ‘gems’ where once Wenger found easy to in years past.

    Add to current performance on pitch and we are facing some complex issues ahead.

    We can only hope now that we get GIbbs and Koscielny back for the Spuds game, and play them off the park. Perhaps a revisit to the games when we have done right might also help us. After all, despite the injuries, this is still pretty much the same team that dismantled Blackburn, and beat Chelsea.

    As they say, you are only 2 games from a crisis. Well here we are. But perhaps conversely, you are only 2 games from flying high again.

  13. santori says:

    Sorry, a bit of a ramble.

    Had to get it off my chest.:D

  14. lance (south africa) says:

    we need to put these results behind us and focus on 1 game at at a time. we get caught on the counter attack because our right and left back always push up. i say we get them to defend more not run up. we need to go back to 4-4-2 , we have the players to do it.

    schezny

    sagna tv kos gibbs

    gerv song arteta oxlain

    rvp asharvin

    this is a well balanced team song and arteta do not need to push forward all the time cos there is plenty of creative players up front.
    and our defenders can also defend more than attack.

    • santori says:

      There is no way not to push up.

      Don’t push up and your wingers are then unsupported.

      Unsupported wingers = ineffectual ones.

      We then go through the middle where we are easily slowed and crowded out (particularly sans Jack and Diaby type players)

      The moment our offensive effort is blunted, we start to face pressure at the back and something will give.

      The key to pushing forward whilst protecting the back is effective cover (particularly from midfield) We can get this right.

      Two goals against Milan (The Robinho ones) were the result of a lack of cover from the midfield.

      This last game, the Chamberlain goal was a tad unfortunate but the first goal was perfectly preventable.

      We are in (bad) habit of clearing the ball back into the danger area and without someone in place to attack the second ball. This has been a perrenial issue with the defense regardless of whether we win or lose matches. It has simply not been attended to.

      We can defend better BUT we must also attack more effciently and quicker.

      Play with Fullbacks holding back and you are asking for trouble. It will simply heap more pressure on our back and not afford us the sharpness up front to keep the opponents on the back foot.

  15. Philip says:

    Yes it was depressing to watch and certainly not the response we were all hoping for. I agree with Desi that we needed a plan B to change things as Sunderland had us in their pockets as we were just too predictable and never really looked like scoring. It was a slow death really and somehow the inevitable happened when Sunderland scored their goals

    Arshavin had them at sixes and sevens in his brief cameo appearance last weekend and Chamakh would have provided a different dimension and given Sunderland something else to think about. I am sure that the game would have changed if we had managed to equalise when trailing 1-0. Unfortunately it wasnt to be.
    The team appears to lack confidence at present. If we manage to beat Spurs this weekend it may just turn our topsy turvey season around again.

    I have been an Arsenal supporter since 1973 and have been through alot of highs and lows with the Gunners. However, I will always support them through thick and thin.

    It is interesting reading comments from some who are saying that we are in a crisis and that this is the worst time ever.

    Those of us who can remember when we were in danger of being relegated in the mid 1970s finishing 16th in 1974/75 and 17th in 1975/76. That was a crisis! Imagine what the message boards would have been saying if they existed then.

    • Dhruv says:

      I am surprised too that Arshavin did not play.

      I am beginning to think that Wenger is now afraid of fans lashing out at him in public and also also too much media criticism. Wenger seems to lose the plot.

      The popular opinion was that FA cup was our best chance of trophy this year and we should play our best squad but I am sorry that was not correct.

      The team just played 2 matches in a week on dodgy pitches. Against a Sunderland team who are very well organized team under MON, this was going to be one tough match anyway but to play tired players was suicidal.

      • santori says:

        Again don’t agree about tired legs.

        We have a non winnable match coming up midweek for the players to recuperate.

        Sending out a second string would only send out the wrong signal in that we are not even willing to compete with the one realistic chance we had left of silverware.

        With regards Arsharvin, I am surprised too as he seemed to have the key to unlocking Sunderland’s tight defense last time round. I suspect Wenger thought Walcott’s speed would be telling second half. There was an instance where he did get behind the defense and was incorrectly judged off side but otherwise, he seems to lack the sort of craft and guile that an Arsharvin can otherwise bring.

  16. Aniruddh says:

    The Arsenal house has been crumbling for a good few years now but how we comeback from devastation will have a telling impact on the club’s future. If we take on a good rebuilding job in the summer we may rise to the top in a shorter time than our demise has taken but if the club don’t take drastic action to stem the tide we may well become a midtable side for the foreseeable future

  17. John says:

    I think this game really highlighted the problems at Arsenal forgetting about spending loads of money.

    Wenger has doen a great job he had a vision of total football with little attention giving to the defensive side of the game and this is were we have ended up.

    Watching Sunderland with afew Utd rejects in the ranks shown you dont need to be a world class defender you need to be organise and work at a unit something we are not and have not been is many years. The fact that we arent as free flowing going forwrad only shows you this failing in a worest light. Actually the fact we have Bould in our coaching ranks and could sort this says it all.

    We dont have a leader simply Henry came on v AC Milan and was telling people to pick up taht is not acceptable if players dont ahve the personaility to shout at they our teamates they tell them its part of the job ex Vermanlen is the top dog on set pieces if he tells you to do something you do it.

    Another example if I had of been Clichy and Arshiavn was ahead of me and didnt track back I would give him some much abuse he would start tracking back cos it would have been easier than listening to me.

    Lastly it was great seeing Sunderalnd hunt in packs to retrive the ball the let Arsenal have it then when the went after it they did it together it show great communication and a willingness to not let a teamate down, thats pride in your preformance thats something that comes from the manager and Arsenal have zero off.

    As I said Wenger has doen a terrfic job but unless he can go of his ego and face facts by addressing weak areas he needs to go.

  18. Dhruv says:

    Desi, good article but I think you should be less emotional. You already predicted that Arsenal will finish 5th this season so o not let the Arsenal’s performance affect your personally. That is all man. Looking forward to the Spuds match at the weekend.

  19. peterparker78 says:

    Hi Desi and fellow gooner,

    Last seaon when I posted very similar assessment and not too dissimilar question, you criticized me by saying “I don’t have any knowledge of football and there are too many details and I am criticising one of the best manager in the world and people with too much knowledge of football (I took it that you were referring to yourselff there”. After that I decided not to post any thing here but now knowing that you share the same pain, came to the similar conclusion, I wanted to come back and empathize with you. I am not happy to be proven right, in fact I will be happier if was/will proven wrong

    The questions I asked were

    1. Why there is no balance in the team in attack and defence
    2. Why we consistently getting caught on counter attacks
    3. Why we cannot soak some pressure and hold on to narrow leads
    4. Why we concede when we are in dominant positions in terms of possession and shots on target
    5. Why a simple ball on top leads to goals most of the time (some thing AW himself finally admitted after Milan game)
    6. Why we rarely score from set pieces (corners, indirect free kicks)
    7. Why teams playing against us with no strikers and all midfielder end up winng or taking points against us

    All of these points are relevant here again despite change in personnel from previous 2-3 years. Call it a lack of plan B, lack of leaders, lack of creativity, lack of killer strikers, lack of cover for key players, knackard players for playing too many games on the trot due to lack of options available or any thing else, but the bottom line is that none of these issues are new.

    Issue regarding the squad size and injuries is one of the most interesting one. Despite all the noise about financial restraints, we have a wage bill of 120 millions plus and if that amount cannot provide you with 25 quality players who can cover for each other then, I am at loss to explain what else you need. The answer may be simple thogh, that many of the players who are eating a sizeable chunk of this wage bill are there just to make up the numbers but cannot do the job when asked to. That prompts the question, why they are there then and why we are paying them millions of pounds every year, why we have not got rid of them, why we are relying on csmall number of players who, by playing every week, get tiried come the business end of season. Who is responsible for that. Why people like Almunia, Squalacci, Denilson, Diaby, Gibbs, Arshavin, Park, NB52, Vela, Chmakh and Rosicky are still at club. Why some one is telling Walcott how to beat his man and be effective winger not just one trick pony. Why, despite saying that it will be foolish to drop points because we don’t have have full backs, no cover was bought despite enough time around winter months. Why people are being asked to consistently play out of positions and get injured.

    Unfortunately, we don’t know the answers to these question and may never know what is happening behind the scenes. You may haope that it may get better after getting so much worse. A part of me really hopes that may be not qualifying for CL will be a blessing in disguise but then I think that not having CL money (TV as well as gates) on top of low income by finishing low plus low commercial revenues and no more quality players to sell (bar RVP in last year of his contract may fetch 15 millions or so), this will be the final nail.

    So, my friend, like you I am dejected and don’t know what the solution is despite knowing the problems. Dark, depressing days ahead, unfortunately

    • santori says:

      You won’t want us to finish outside the Top 4 believe me. That would not be any blessing.

      You think we can attract top players to come in to the team without being in the Top 4 at minimum.

      YOu seem to suggest we need an overhaul. If we fall out of top 4, we will have to pay double to get the sort of quality we want playing for us sans CL and that is still and IF.

      And then try figuring out who else you could bring in to strengthen the squad given the types of players available.

      We are but 2-3 players (as always) away from being competitive and one of these may step up from the Academy next season.

      But the bigger issue is how we play.That needs rapid addressing. No amount of money spent will help us otherwise. Refer : Chelsea and Liverpool.

  20. Kushagra India says:

    Groundhod February, I will say, really the lack of squad depth is again getting exposed like it did in 2011 er… 2010 ,2009 etc..ang again Wenger’s team shows no bouncebackability..

    • santori says:

      I don’t think it is an issue of squad depth (entirely), I think it catches up on us because our tactics are poor. Any slight drop in form/output is automatically amplified.

      OTOH, typical areluck for us. We are just getting out of the fullback crisis only to now face a shortage of Cbacks!

      Will it never end?:P

      I have to say I don’t think our CBacks lack quality. Djourou is the weakest link at the moment (discounting Squillaci who is just bad luck) but he is 4th choice.

      I don’t think many teams can afford to have 4 top Cbacks at the club with one willing to sit it out on the bench for long durations (although being us, there is every chance I suppose that the 4th or 5th choice CBack will play quite a few games in the season):D

      I thought Djourou did OK against Sunderland (a couple of hesitant moments aside) and I am not worried abouyt replacing him because we have Miquel and Bartley coming through to challenge him.

      Again, I think the issue is more how we can ochestrate our defense properly in concert with the midfield.

      Granted we may lack a little ‘squad depth’ here and there but even our reserve players should be equal to the task in matching up with the likes of Sunderland’s at least. No excuses, we need to sort ourselves out tactically.

  21. spurs_idiot says:

    why doesn’t wenger try 4-4-2 in the 2nd leg…they isn’t much to play for anyway so let’s not get ignorant and say we can over-come a 4-0 deficit…. Try out the 4-4-2 and slowly make it our game play….it would be good to see RVP with some support up top !!!!!

    • santori says:

      You know, why not?

      It really is MIssion Impossible. We may as well give some of the underperforming lads a go (or poor Park), give the A team a good rest.

      OTOH, Milan should be susceptible to pace something we neglected to use in the first leg, so maybe with Gervinho back (and Arsharvin), we could work on properly utilising the areas out wide particularly as there won’t be ‘trenches’ back home.

      The other issue will be in defense. I expect Koscielny will be back which will be good news. Hopefully GIbbs is also revovered from whatever mystery strain he was suffering from.

      But the biggest issue IMO is our link play from midfield.

      Song looks a tad jaded. May want to rest him for the weekend.

      Ordinarily this would be a good game to have Le Coq come in but he has (as expected) done himself in at our crucial juncture of the campaign.

      So maybe if we do go for a 4-4-1-1 (overloading on our abundance of wide men), we should have Arsharvin play second striker to Chamakh. Gervinho and Walcott on either flank and Arteta with Rosicky paired just behind them (Arteta holding and Rosicky spreading the ball out wide)

      Worth a shot at very least to see if we can break down entrenched teams.

  22. Siva says:

    Desi, you are stronger than I’m, I’m just returning to the Arsenal world after the Sunderland game.
    Well made points, particularly about Plan B. On that night the subs that Arsene made, meant we had 4 attackers in RVP, Ox, Gervinho & Theo but barely any shots on goal or even created any chances for those four.

    AW, went for it but it made our midfield light, we overrun there & they scored.

    Seems to me it was the same against Milan.

    Hope, apart from a num of first teamers getting a run out in reserves, there are other measures being taken to reverse our recent slump – short term & long term.

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