Arsenal 1 -3 Aston Villa: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

In the preview I was talking about how every possible result was conceivable. The opening minutes gave the impression that this could be a comfortable win. Then there was a period when the team switched into the allow-the-opposition-back-into-the-game mode. At half time many fans must still have been confident that a result could be ground out. Anthony Taylor did his thing and Villa took the lead. For a while, even at 1-2, and then with only 10 men, it seemed like the players were fighting and a draw was possible. In the end, the worst possible outcome ensured there will be tremendous pressure on the manager and the players for foreseeable future unless they string together a run of form that is, at the moment, inconceivable.

Given the lack of depth on the bench and the frustrations of the summer transfer window, it’s easy to understand why many fans instinctively linked this result with a failure to sign quality players. There is a correlation there and top class players always help a team, that much is undeniable. Similarly, there is no possible rational way to suggest this squad does not need additions. However, I find the lack of action in the transfer market to be a separate problem and don’t believe the result of this game was down to the blank slate labelled ‘New Acquisitions’.

The point here is not to defend the state of affairs as they stand but to focus on the actual problems from this game, which, if you think really hard, are actually a lot more alarming than Arsenal’s inability to sign players. You might not realize this right now but if the issues we saw on the pitch are not addressed, new players are not going to make a big enough impact. With that thought in mind I don’t want to spend too much time on transfer talk in this article. Let’s stick to the events of the game.

The start was, as previously noted, quite comfortable. I thought Villa were a bit tentative and lacked cohesiveness, a problem we’ll later associate with the Gunners. They set out to defend around the centre line but their pressing wasn’t coordinated across the board. The hosts found it fairly easy to move the ball around and the goal came from a fairly simple sequence of events despite the length that the ball travelled on the pitch.

Wilshere’s composure and ability to turn and lose his man started it deep on the left in the Arsenal half. Rosicky held off Vlaar’s pressure and turned away from him into space, which resulted in a broken back line for the visitors. Oxlade-Chamberlain held his run and was released into acres of space. Giroud was completely free in the box and guided it in deftly.

After the goal the Gunners maintained decent possession but signs of trouble were visible as early as the 10th minute when Arsenal’s 4-4-2 off-the-ball shape was visibly static as Villa exploited space down their left flank. That particular move didn’t result in a highlights-worthy moment but Lambert’s men, or boys, were slowly growing into the game. In contrast, Wenger’s wards were slowly drifting away as they couldn’t quite decide the level of risk they needed to take or the kind of intensity that had to be maintained. After the goal I don’t recall any noteworthy chance being created in the first half.

This lack of clarity from a tactical point of view (often after an early lead has been taken) has been a long standing problem and has cost the team valuable points over the last couple of seasons. It paralyzes the team, creates the impression that players don’t care, and gives the opposition greater belief and momentum.

Once the visitors realized they could get something from this game it was only a matter of when, not if, they were going to score. The equalizer was an unbearably soft goal to concede made worse only by its sheer predictability as Ramsey and Wilshere combined to leave a massive hole in front of the defence that sucked Koscielny in and made Agbonlahor look like Messi for a moment.

The goal obviously gave Villa greater confidence and that in turn helped them with their defensive structure and solidity. They also went increasingly harder for the 50-50s with the referee seemingly keen on levelling the technical disparity between the sides.

Six minutes just after the hour mark changed everything with utter incompetence being the kindest words one could choose for the Ref’s performance. A seemingly excellent tackle was deemed to be a foul and a penalty awarded to Villa with a Yellow card given to Koscielny. Soon after the Frenchman was sent off for a second bookable offence, which, while it can be considered a yellow-card offence, was the kind of challenge most officials let slide with a stern warning. There is no doubt Taylor played a starring role in Villa’s victory but blaming him for the defeat would cover over way too many cracks in the Gunner ranks.

We have to wonder why Arsenal keep getting into such messy defensive situations on so frequent a basis. How can a ‘proven player’ and a ‘star acquisition’ like Cazorla be so lax as he was when Agbonlahor pinched his pocket in the build up to the second goal. From what should be a harmless position just inside the Villa half from Arsenal’s point of view, it took the Englishman three unchallenged touches to get into the hosts’ penalty area. It’s said that you make your own luck but in Arsenal’s case with a complete lack of shape or defensive awareness it was more of a matter of inviting your own misfortune.

Having had the booking, one could again say Koscielny should have been a lot more careful. But while going forward in search of the equalizer the Gunners again left gaping holes in front of the defence and the Frenchman succumbed to his own aggressive temperament. A long punt forward, which was just a clearance and bounced off the back of Benteke’s head, actually fell to the rapidly advancing Weimann with no midfielder/fullback in a position to support the central defenders. I don’t know of any other club with pretentions of being one of the top European sides that gets into a tragi-comic defensive disarray this often and as easily.

At the end of last season there was genuine effort and improvement in this regard but, as I’d noted at that time, it came at the cost of offensive potency and was not something Wenger was going to live with for too long. Arsenal need that calibre of collective defending AND have to find greater incision and goal threat in conjunction with that. Focus on flair and attacking desire that comes at the cost of stability at the back will often lead to situations where the team starts conceding chances and loses confidence. As we’ve seen, confidence once lost can be a very hard thing to regain.

A related observation was that Arsenal did seemingly try to emulate the German 4-4-2 with the advanced midfielder pressing alongside the striker but most of the Gunners lack the tactical know-how to execute that in a ruthless and efficient manner with minimum risk. I should not single Arsenal out though, as I’d discussed here it’s an approach that the German clubs appear to have refined with years of work. Most other teams are not as efficient and effective at executing it. This won’t click for Wenger and his players any time soon and could be a very risky strategy for the short term.

Despite going down to 10 men the Gunners should get credit for their fighting spirit. Rosicky and Cazorla could have brought the team level but Guzan produced quality saves.

Villa’s third goal killed the game and it was again a very soft, typical Arsenal gift – Corner to the Gunners, goal/chance to the opponents. How often have we seen that?! When Cazorla took that ill-advised shot from outside the box you could see 10 Villa players in their own box and one just outside in the arc on the edge of the penalty area. The eventual goalscorer was the same guy who blocked Cazorla’s shot on the edge of the box!

Arsenal had six players beyond the 18 yard line including Walcott near the corner flag, Cazorla was on the edge of the box, and two players were behind him. How does a team go from that to a clear one-v-one for the opponent against their goalkeeper within a matter of second with just one worthwhile pass?! The lack of defensive awareness and the tendency to get lost in ball-watching is beyond alarming, it’s been one of the core issues preventing Arsenal from fulfilling the potential the team otherwise has. This isn’t an issue one or two transfers can solve unless Wenger finds the perfect coach to add to his team.

There are a couple of other issues that are worth discussing. Arsenal struggled against Villa’s physical challenges in this game, some of which were clearly fouls, but it wasn’t that Lambert had sent out a particularly physically imposing side. While the physicality angle was clearly visible, it wasn’t so much about physical attributes as it was about the manifestation of confidence and tactical clarity in the form of greater desire and sharpness. On the other hand, Arsenal were slower in the minds than is needed for the kind of game they want to play because of a lack of tactical clarity and this resulted in a reactionary performance rather than a proactive and dominant one.

The other point is that Villa didn’t win this game by having better individuals on the pitch, they won it by having better cohesive output (with a generous dose of luck). In that sense, buying more players is not going to help Arsenal if they cannot have the whole unit on the same tactical page. Of course, one might say for that to happen a clearly comprehensible tactical blueprint must first exist but that’s a whole different can of worms that I don’t want to touch right now.

Individual Performances:

Szczesny: Got lucky with the first penalty but didn’t have any control on the save as it went straight back to Benteke. Might have been sent off if the ref hadn’t played advantage. Not a confidence-inspiring display.

Sagna: Took a lot of blows and a serious fall for the team’s cause, also did a decent job at left back. Did not make any sort of a meaningful offensive contribution and it might have been better if he’d stayed a little deeper. For instance, it might have been easier for him to track Weimann’s run that got Koscielny his second yellow card.

Mertesacker: Had a steady enough game.

Koscielny: Very unfortunate to concede the penalty and the subsequent sending off was also harsh. But he should also know how to stay on his feet, particularly after he’s been booked. This wasn’t a day he’d like to remember.

Gibbs: Was looking good before he picked up that injury. It’s one of the smaller details but his presence would have helped the team’s balance.

Jenkinson: He was effective in a conservative role at the start of last season and needs to go back to that. Focus on defending and get it right, keep things simple, and the rest will come later. At the moment he looks a bit out of his depth when he tries to emulate the level of involvement that Sagna offers.

It couldn’t have been a great day at the office for the defenders if the team conceded three goals but the quality of officiating and the performance of the midfield does lessen the blame falling on their shoulders.

Ramsey: Work rate was excellent and he was trying till the very end but I thought he should have played more horizontally in Arteta’s absence and left Wilshere more room a little further up the pitch.

Rosicky: MotM, if one can be given after such a performance and result. Desire was always there and he was involved with everything Arsenal did offensively including the pre-assist for the goal, the two chances that he created for himself with clever one-twos, and the chance for Cazorla. His ability to beat the opponents in one-v-ones was excellent. Finishing could have been better. Needs to graduate from unnecessary and risky sliding tackles to a more intelligent form of defending.

Wilshere: Another one whose effort cannot be questioned and he does bring something special to the side, just not on a consistently decisive basis to cover up his lack of defensive awareness and recovery pace. There is a big learning curve in front of him if he has to go from a massive potential to a truly big player. Does deserve better protection from the referee.

Cazorla: Didn’t look ready but that doesn’t excuse the kind of performance he put in. Let his teammates and coaches down badly, not to mention the fans. His touch was poor, bordering on careless at times and that resulted in two turnovers that got Koscielny booked. Very bad choice to shoot from the edge of such a crowded box when a better pass down the inside channel was available. Having taken the shot he should have been alert to Luna’s movement but instead was simply watching the ball. Very disappointing from an experienced pro.

The midfield did not do enough to protect the defence and they did not have enough guile, skill, or coordination to offensively compensate for their defensive lapses. There is a strong case to be made for a top class defensive signing, particularly now that Diaby and Coquelin are also not there. But that doesn’t mean the players who are there shouldn’t be doing much better.

Walcott: Not his kind of game. Villa played deep and narrow for large periods and he was crowded out whenever he got near the penalty box. Nobody found him with a ball in behind with Wilshere missing the best opportunity by under-hitting a pass. He is a limited player and when the team can’t play to his strengths he will make a limited contribution. Surprising that he takes free-kicks.

Giroud: Good goal, combined beautifully with Rosicky on a couple of occasions, and another player whose effort was top notch. Finishing quality has always been average and that showed in some of the half-chances that he got. Needs to bring others into the game more often but that’s a matter of developing collective instincts.

Oxlade-Chamberlain: Did well to hold his run and picked his pass well for the assist. Has to make himself available more often and be involved more. This was still a very individualistic performance from a player who has the potential but lacks the knowhow to benefit from his teammates’ skills.

All the three have something special to offer but they also have their own sets of limitations. In a game like this where the opponents gain confidence and hold their shape while the Gunners lose their tactical clarity, it’s always more likely that the limitations are exposed rather than their skills shining through. Again, there is a strong case to be made for buying a world class player who can make things happen but I’m not convinced there are too many around who would come to Arsenal (I don’t put Higuain in that category as he too has many limitations, Suarez might be the only (fading) hope).

Subs: Podolski came on very late in the game and I’ve covered the other two above.

Wenger: He will get a lot of flak for lack of signings but I’m more concerned by his inability to strike a balance between attack and defence for the duration of a season irrespective of the players he has out on the pitch. In my opinion this is linked with not having coaches from countries that are a little more advanced tactically and technically when compared to England/Britain.


36 Responses to Arsenal 1 -3 Aston Villa: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. George Smith says:

    Agree with your comment generally and the coaching side. I’ m afraid it will be another season similar to the last nine.There are 37 games to go but the gunners are getting very predictable and that’s the rub.

  2. J Cole says:

    Of course, watching MOTD suggests all the Arsenal fans have been sucked in by their managers assertions the second penalty wasn’t, when it was. Stop whining about the ref. Arsenal could have won the game by creating more chances and putting the ball in the back of the net. If your having to put in last ditch tackles in the penalty box from the behind one of the fastest players in the league, you already have the issue, by making the ref have to decide on the tackle.

    • pieman says:

      Why refer to the imbecilic analysis of a panel of cretins who have no worthwhile management experience, and not the excellent, lucid, objective examination provided by Desi?

      Welcome back, Desi. It’s going to be a long season and winter is coming.

    • Kevin Weaver says:

      MOTD showed only a tiny part of a match where this referee gave Arsenal very little and allowed us to be roughed up by Aston Villa, very few people think he had a competent match (Villa fans included). I just can’t fathom out why he didn’t red card Szczesny, he should have, and it was totally out of context with the rest of his performance. What is concerning is that we get a lot of referees like this, look at our win % when Mike Dean officiates. Wenger doesn’t court or manage referees the way Sir Alex did.
      We all know the referee wasn’t the reason we lost, but that shouldn’t stop us from pointing out that he was incompetent.

      • nabby says:

        He didn’t red card him because he played an advantage that led to a clear goal-scoring opportunity. The fact that the Villa player missed this chance created by the advantage being played should not have had a bearing on the ref pulling play back for the penalty. In other words, the ref ballsed it up completely.

        He should have either:
        1) blown for the penalty as soon as Chezzer fouled Agbonlahor and sent him off with a red card
        or
        2) played advantage, watch Villa miss the almost open goal and then allowed play to continue.

        No ref should wait to see if someone scored from the advantage before blowing the whistle to bring it all back to the original foul. The advantage is the creation of the second chance for a goal, not an actual goal.

        The most shocking thing about Taylor’s performance for me was that he let Agbonlahor commit the same type of foul over and over when we broke with the ball, but only booked him for it in the 93rd minute.

        None of this should take away from the fact that we didn’t deserve to win after the opening 20 mins and that, as desi has written above, we were tactically stupid and naive.

  3. Stan says:

    BOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! A curse on both your houses Gazidis and Wenger.

  4. bluegooner says:

    What a thoughtful and penetrating analysis. Thank you. Is anyone at Arsenal able to act on this?

  5. adebowale says:

    You r very spot on about the problem with arsenal its not about new aquisition but the tactical input of wenger. Nobody can tell me that aston villa team is better than arsenal squad presently.wenger must change his approach on each game the team has ni sdhape at all with or without new players.

  6. Kaycee says:

    Nice write-up. It’s good to see someone writing about positives after that horrific display. I just hope some of the injuries are not as serious as percieved. The game has evolved and Wenger should please evolve.

  7. Kevin Weaver says:

    A lot of good points made, and I’m sure many will have different opinions. My feeling is that the team needs signings, mainly to bring new impetus to the team, ideally a leader, physically strong (our midfield is small, and Villa roughed them up), someone who has winners medals who knows what goes on a winning clubs and who would be unquestioningly respected by the other players. A few years ago Clarence Seedorf would have been ideal. We need a goalkeeper, Szczesny is a shot stopper, but a liability as well, he doesn’t organise the defence or help them stay calm. Central defence needs cover, Mertesacker is slow, Koscielny is rash and although harshly dealt with yesterday he makes many mistakes and gets a lot of red cards. Vermaelen is injured, and is not a good defender. Midfield needs some size and organisation, someone who will hold their position and be a first line of defence. Up front we need some clinical finishers. I’ve heard fans disparage the likes of Sturridge, he would have been a great signing last year. Man Utd have 4, RVP, Hernadez, Rooney, and Welbeck. Finally we need some new back room staff, Meulensteen having been released from Man Utd might have been an idea, nothing like finding out what winners do to help the cause. A new head physiotherapist might keep some of the players on the pitch more.
    I don’t think we’ll get much of the above because Wenger is too arrogant and stubborn, Mourinho wants to win and doesn’t care how he does it, Wenger wants to win his way and won’t accept advice.
    I sadly think that it is time for Arsene to leave, a once great manager is now out of date!

  8. Rich says:

    Nice summary, nice to see someone paying attention to what’s going on, on the pitch.
    Agree that the balance in midfield is wrong, without Arteta we lack shape, also when we play with 2 impact players wide of Giroud, that doesn’t really work either.
    The referee contributed to our loss yesterday, and also the negative atmosphere surrounding the game didn’t help.
    Wilshere whilst clearly a brilliant talent, doesn’t yet have a role in this Arsenal team, and we seem to be accommodating him at the expense of the team collective.
    I would prefer we went back to the blueprint that we used at the end of last season

  9. a gunn says:

    Cazorla came back from Ecuador on Thursday night having been used for full 90 minutes by Spain. He should have been rested by Wenger for the Villa match, with next Wednesday’s CL match in view. A club as big as Arsenal should never be in a position where the squad is so thin as to be relying on fatigued players like Cazorla. Wenger got rid of 17 players this summer and has 3 months to replace some of them, it’s ridiculous that none is bought upto present moment. Sadly for the fans, Arsenal won’t progress until they got rid of Wenger who has now become a liability for the football club. Wenger is stuck in his ways, his training methods are so predictable and can’t adapt to the changing environment in the transfer market the club find itself. I hope the board act soon and go for Jurgen Klopp as the new manager before Man United realise that Moyes isn’t good enough for them.

    • Bayonne Jean says:

      Cazorla is out of the Wednesday CL fixture due to carryover yellow card offense from last season’s CL. Same for Koscielny.

      Side is severely restricted for Istanbul. Perhaps AW could arrange for an armored truck with 70 million pounds in it to line up as keeper for the match…

  10. Jack says:

    I thought Villa outplayed Arsenal, and we were lucky Szczesny didn’t get a red card too. We can’t keep putting the blame on refs, missed chances, injuries. We just weren’t good enough.

  11. Ash says:

    Another insightful analysis, it’s great to have you back desi! I agree with your assertion that it was a deeper rooted issue than just the lack of signings that led to our defeat yesterday. It will however be our lack of signings that leads to our defeat away to Fernabache on Wednesday with our rediculously thin squad even more decimated by injury. No proper defensive anchor or player with the right discipline to play a shielding role whilst arteta is out is, no recognised left back with gibbs, monreal, vermaelen, miguel and maybe now sagna out, no cover in central defence for the suspended koz against fulham, i see a very difficult couple of weeks and press conferences for mr wenger but for a man we have all loved and respected over the years my sympathies are running thin- can’t fight the notion he has brought it all on himself.

  12. Ben says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more.

  13. dave says:

    The players in midfield yesterday just aren’t suited to defending. They are all good players but not one of them is really a player who is going to protect the back four. While I agree with you to a certain extent, I would argue that our lack of cover for Arteta cost us. We simply do not have another player at the club who can do what he does. I don’t know why Wenger expects attack minded midfielders to do his (Arteta’s) job. He should have signed a midfielder who could provide defensive cover because we have long been over reliant on a single player in our squad. In my eyes, the failure in the transfer market is directly linked to yesterday’s failure on the pitch. It was an obvious weakness in the squad that could have easily been addressed had the club been more active in the transfer market.

  14. Dianjuh says:

    Hey Desi, wow what a reminder of what we’ve been craving, a poor arsenal team with a rigid manager, ridiculous board and dellusional fans. I have been looking forward to a lot of things with Arsenal(beating the top teams, winning leagues n cups etc) but now I am more eager to see Wenger hang his gloves, for the sake of not embarrasing us any further. Do u honestly think Villa would have handled a balanced team with Higuain, Fellaini and Julio Cesar? Really?

  15. Tony says:

    Excellent analysis Desi but I agree with a gunn that Cazorla was probably sleep walking with jet lag yesterday and should never have been on the pitch. We are too dependent on Arteta. Without him we lack leadership, balance and organisation. You are probably correct in saying that a lack of signings was not the cause of our loss but psychologically it’s been catastrophic. To watch teams like Spurs and Liverpool bolster their squads with talented acquisitions and to start the season with such an incredibly thin squad is deeply depressing.
    It’s going to be a long hard season for Gooners with a mid-table finish a distinct possibility but that’s what it will probably take to shake the Board out of their complacency and realise that Wenger is “yesterday’s man.”

  16. indiancesc says:

    i thought mertesacker,szczesny and ramsey were also very poor,definitely not the quality required for a 1st team that aspires to win trophies but like always you deliberately ignore their short comings instead focus on mistakes one of the better players in the team.

    Mertesacker-i think he is extremely slow,often puts pressure on koscielny by his indecision and inability to read the game.

    ramsey-sorry to say but this guy is a brainless footballer who simply does not know what is his best ability.lacks footballing sense is always in wrong place with his running,to be frank most of the time his constant running is useless and also with his touch constantly slows the attack down.i

    szczesny-this guy is not at all serious,very casual and does not deserve to be a professional player for arsenal.

    these are somethings which i have noticed in the previous seasons,but i dont know whats the reason behind desi’s unjustified protection of ramsey and mertesacker.

  17. indiancesc says:

    i thought mertesacker,szczesny and ramsey were also very poor,definitely not the quality required for a 1st team that aspires to win trophies but like always you deliberately ignore their short comings instead focus on mistakes from one of the better players in the team.

    Mertesacker-i think he is extremely slow,often puts pressure on koscielny by his indecision and inability to read the game.

    ramsey-sorry to say but this guy is a brainless footballer who simply does not know what is his best ability.lacks footballing sense is always in wrong place with his running,to be frank most of the time his constant running is useless and also with his touch constantly slows the attack down.i

    szczesny-this guy is not at all serious,very casual and does not deserve to be a professional player for arsenal.

    these are somethings which i have noticed in the previous seasons,but i dont know whats the reason behind desi’s unjustified protection of ramsey and mertesacker.

  18. […] objectivity and balanced perspectives. He always does a tactical round-up post-game, and the one on yesterday was good as usual. Remarkable consistency. Wenger would […]

  19. Christopher says:

    Now that was a horrible performance. I remember last week many arsenal fans were making fun of moyes and Manchester united. Look at the way they thrashed Swansea yesterday at their own turf..

    Walcott is one of the most over rated footballer. He plays whwell when whole team is playing well otherwise he is shit.
    Less said about Ramsey the better,

    Wilshere needs to be match fit but when thhe time comes he like others will leave.

    I hope we dont buy someone desperately. Suarez is a cunt who should no way be seen at Emirates. Dont become like Chelsea or City buying Dick footballers

  20. V Gun says:

    Good write up Desi. Good to have you back for what could be a VERY long season…

  21. Previgo says:

    Some dudes just naturally hate ramsey.. The guy was brilliant yesterday even covered as a CB when koscielny went off, what more do you want from him? Is he know our top marks man that you want to put everything on him? Sometimes i doubt if some people realy watch the game or they just sleep @home and give stupid remarks about the players when they realise arsenal have lost, on sczsney too apart from that harsh clearance which other mistake did he make? As for per i never trusted that guy, he is incredibly slow and tackles like a guinea fowl. You know who to blame don’t try to shift the blames all you deluded AKB’S, even if we do sign stars with wenger as coach we will never win anything, he would probably corrupt their winning mentalities with his wretched 4th place trophy mentality. I have said this before and i will repeat my self again “SIR ALEX FERGUSON WILL WIN THE EPL WITH OUR CURRENT SQUAD BY ADDING ONLY THREE PLAYERS, TOBY ANDERWEIRL,LARS BENDER, AND LUIS SUAREZ” But believe me wenger will only clinch 4th with such players.

  22. Zerin says:

    As a Liverpool supporter I am amazed at how we signed Kolo Toure on a free. He would have easily contributed to the Arsenal squad

    If you need to play attacking football with players high up the pitch then you need exceptionally good DMCs or really great centre backs with good pace. After Viera left Arsene has never solved this problem. For a brief period Flamini did a decent job and just when Song was getting on song ……..

    Arsenal need one very important defensive signing to compete:

    Waynama at Southamton at 12 Million was expensive but he could have been the one

    Before the window closes there are more players out there:
    Capou
    Diame at West Ham
    Tiote

  23. Sammy Oyiana says:

    Well…, asides d team’s flaws the manager has his major chunk too. I believe if we had bought and fielded a natural defensive midfielder, the defence wouldn’t have been as exposed as it was…, even arteta would have given enough protection. Although every knew before the game that ramsey was ony 80% fit…, he left his holding midfield role and ventured up d field like a box to box midfielder thus leaving the defence bare. The ref had his part to play too…, especially the second penalty; because even the lines man had flagged for a corner kick. Koscielny’s card should be appealed for.

  24. Sen says:

    “Ramsey and Wilshere combined to leave a massive hole in front of the defence that sucked Koscielny in and made Agbonlahor look like Messi for a moment.” …. Very well said…, we miss Arteta! 😦

  25. Alex says:

    Arsenal will never be winners while they have a victim mentality. Every loss comes with a ready made excuse – the ref, the long balls, rough play, and so on. A winners mentality begins with players accepting responsibility for their failings, but, at Arsenal, kindly, indulgent, uncle Arsene wont allow it!

  26. Nick from Portugal says:

    Nabby exactly right on Agbohn whatever. He was breaking up our midfield all day with petty trips and yacking and winding up our tense little maestro Jack who has to learn to control himself. Desi so right on our curious response to going one up in these kinds of games, that is when we need to raise the intensity, instead we take it as our due and sit back. Sagna was immense yesterday and took a very dangerous knock, Rosisky also brilliant, not sure what happens to Walcott in games like this and Koscielny, who I like, really needs to think it through a little when he is on a yellow card. We should have won comfortably, we lost, no complaints but Taylor should be ashamed of his performance as we are of ours.

  27. tsginge says:

    A massive fan of your blog. One of a few who understand football Keep it up.

  28. Ama Zonda says:

    Arsene WENGER has lost the plot a long time ago. That he is still around is itself a miracle. In any normal football club, he would have already been fired.

  29. Sen says:

    Yeah, may be you are right. But you need to understand that if he’s not being fired, he’s acting as a face on an inept management, who doesn’t want to spend, and letting him take all the blame! 🙂

  30. sam says:

    While i have been a long time wenger admirer even the ardent of wenger followers should realise that he is not changing with the times, and i have to admit that a change is needed at arsenal. One of the key factors that made fergie successful was his ability to change with the times, and i do not see that happening, forget players/signings for a second, tactically wenger over the past few seasons has been found lacking, i had high hopes this season what with gazidis coming out and boasting et.al, but looks like another season filled with disappointment,,,,

  31. Bayonne Jean says:

    Desi, you are the go-to guy when it comes to sane, measured, and knowledgeable analysis. Good to have you back!

    You are just about the only blogger who has consistently picked up on the maddening inability for Arsenal sides, especially at the Emirates, to drastically fall off in overall performance in the first half after the first fifteen minutes of the match. And that’s whether or not a goal is scored. And that’s been happening for five seasons or so. It’s almost as if the side is better off having to battle in that period, rather than starting off on a high note. And I’d wager that it’s something that every one of the competition’s managers have noted, and game planned accordingly…..

  32. MILK says:

    You own a restaurant in London. At 11:00 am you give one of your waiters 10 pound to go to the shops to buy some milk for the kitchen.

    The restaurant closed at 11:30pm and the waiter has not come back.

    Finally, at 12:30 he comes back with no milk.

    What happened you ask? I thought I would go to the country to buy some cheaper and fresher milk but couldn’t decide as there was so much fresh cream out there. So when I came back to London the shop was shut as I was too late.

    Anyway, here is your money. You can pay my 7.9 million pounds a year wages now.

    What would you do?

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