Shame On You, Arsenal

Football - Wigan Athletic v Arsenal Barclays Premier League

Incredulous. This is the emotion Arsene Wenger must be feeling after seeing his team go from being two goals up to a Wigan side battling for survival at the bottom of the Premier League, to losing the game three goals to two. I don’t believe that Wigan pulled off this comeback because they are the stronger side, because they aren’t. I don’t believe Wigan was able to upset the odds today because of their manager Roberto Martinez, and I don’t believe Wigan’s win had anything to do with a lucky break. I believe Arsenal’s loss can be saddled on the shoulders of Arsenal’s own deficiencies, rather than the positive attributes of the Wigan team who beat them.

First, it must be said, kudos to Wigan for being able to pull that off. They kept determined and focused even though to anyone else that game was out of their reach after Silvestre hit the back of the net after some poor marking from a corner kick. Congratulations to Roberto Martinez, for almost certainly keeping Wigan afloat this term. And good on Victor Moses, who was an inspiring substitution.

Now, onto Arsenal. After their midweek loss to Tottenham, it might have been expected that some feeling of disappointment and frustration would be felt by the Arsenal squad, because that loss to their rivals looked to almost certainly extinguish their title challenge for this season, and keep their trophy-less run going. But for them not to want to bounce back, for their fans, and for their own pride, shows a real issue of poor leadership within the squad. The only player in the Tottenham game who seemed to really want it, who seemed more than any other Arsenal player on the pitch to really want to win, was the veteran Sol Campbell. Who, on his performance at the Lane, will probably earn himself another year at the club. It’s been seen before from Arsenal that they have lacked a real leader since the departure of Patrick Vieira. It was most obvious when Gallas, now ex-captain, broke down a couple of seasons back at Birmingham, and then spoke to the press about a disruptive character in the dressing room. For that, he was stripped of the armband, and it was handed to the young, but exceptionally talented, Cesc Fabregas.

When one looks back on Arsenal captains and Arsenal players of past generations, we see real fighters, real hard men who were always willing to go the extra mile for their team. Arsenal’s squad was full of players like this. There was Tony Adams, who was also given the armband at a young age, but he had a never-say-never attitude and a real fighting spirit. The players who surrounded him were similar. Martin Keown, Emmanuel Petit, Robert Pires, Patrick Vieira, and not to mention Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn. These players really played for Arsenal, week in, week out. Best exemplified in the unbeaten run they displayed, a 49-game unbeaten run that is a feat that most probably will never be bested. These were players that refused to lose.

But I digress. In today’s lineup, changes were made to maybe freshen the squad up and rotate a few players after poor performances at the Lane. Not to mention, obviously, the injury crisis, that has claimed Thomas Vermaelen, William Gallas, Cesc Fabregas, Andrey Arshavin, Alex Song, and so on. But what was really missing was the will to succeed. Even with some of those players, Arsenal showed complacency quite like this at West Ham this season, and at Sunderland where they lost a goal to nil. There are too few players in the Arsenal squad who would fight to the end for their club. It seems strange, since most of Arsenal’s squad have come through the ranks there; players like Nicklas Bendtner, Abou Diaby, Gael Clichy, Theo Walcott, and so on. None of them showed the attitude that was needed to hold that game, or to kill it off. Complacency crept in and a hard-working Wigan side were able to triumph over an Arsenal team that should not be allowing things like this to happen.

Arsene Wenger always comes out after victories in the press and speaks about Arsenal’s attitude, Arsenal’s determination, and Arsenal’s spirit. After coming back from two goals down against Barcelona, one could understand where he was coming from. But as soon as there are a few key players missing, most notably Alex Song, who has improved leaps and bounds, and Cesc Fabregas, the cover for those two players is completely inadequate. While players like Theo Walcott and Tomas Rosicky may have all the tricks and pace and technique to beat their man and score goals, they lack the mental attributes of players like Alex Song and Cesc Fabregas, not to mention Robin van Persie, who always performs admirably. It’s the lack of players like those that broke Arsenal today. And it’s a shame, because with all the talent they have, with all the potential they show every year, they never quite get there. Leadership must be a trait spread throughout the squad, and maybe the squad itself must be changed before Arsenal can reach silverware. There are too many players who look like they just don’t deserve their wages. A goalkeeper, a center-half, a midfielder or two, and a striker. All places where Arsenal need reinforcement. That’s every position on the pitch. That’s a bad sign. Arsene Wenger must go for experience, because while it is admirable that he brings players through, players more recently like Craig Eastmond and Fran Merida, these, and quite a few others, aren’t players who are mentally capable – though very likely technically capable – of taking a competition by force and running it to the finish line.

Congratulations to Wigan, but Arsenal have to look at themselves and return the faith Arsene Wenger has invested in them, or changes must be made.

26 thoughts on “Shame On You, Arsenal”

  1. Arsene is over-rated. Any idiot can do what he did at Arsenal, he should be a football guru instead of being a coach. Too many over-rated teenagers, less committed players and a manager who has been making the same mistakes for the past five years, that is why we will never have a sniff of a trophy. What arsene has being doing is wrong, you can not continue raising hope and instilling belief of fans in something that he knows is unattainable and not learning from past mistakes.
    We need direct players I am sure he can tell that to the current crop.Time after time we are told they will mature and get better but inconstitencies shown are horrendous. AW should not be taking us for ride he can get away with this for now but fans will be asking questions about his ability soon. You can live on past glories but at least show improvement. We are lucky this season otherwise we should be sitting fifth or sixth.

  2. The table is looking scary at the moment. It’s crazy to think that a team can go from “still mathematically alive” in the title race to having to fight for 3rd (or dare I say even 4th) in 10 minutes, but it’s happened.

    The margin of error in this league is small and getting smaller. At the very least, we can’t afford keepers who give away one free goal every two matches.

  3. Considering it’s a knee-jerk reaction I think a very fair post. Very few people truly understand the role of psychology in this game… people like Dave (above) don’t even understand football. We’re down at the moment and suffering from a lack of depth and belief, but it will come back. If there is one positive to come from this gutless performance it’s the fact that Arsene Wenger has seen some of our under-performers for what they are. Now more than ever is the time for true Gooners to stand up and support the team. The team needs it, and so do the rest of the Arsenal faithful. The las thing we need is a bunch of tossers using one dreadful performance to further their own selfish and negative purposes.

  4. Definitely a shambolic performance. Both manager and players should be embarrassed. I am, and I’m guessing, most Gooner are too.

    That said, I’d still rather have Arsene Wenger than any gaffer in the English league, including Ol’ Red Nose. I will trust him to make the necessary changes to keep us in contention again next season.

    Yes, the recent lack of trophies is a major concern, but there’s 15-16 other teams who would love to cultivate our success, and yes, finishing top 4 for the number of years we’ve done it, does qualify as success.

    Was lamenting our league position last year to a East London native. His response was, “You’re joking mate, I’m West Ham, we’d kill to finish 4th”.
    And I didn’t doubt him one bit.

    1. “Keep you in contention”

      At what point will AW actually need to win a trophy, rather than keep them in contention.

      Hell Spurs have won more trophies, than Arsenal have in the last 5 years(I think its 6 now).

    2. It’s all about expectations, isn’t it? Ask any mid-table fan like me, with Fulham, how he’d feel if his team finished 3rd or 4th. *Chuffed* wouldn’t even get close.

  5. I live,die & breath Arsenal,but any fool can see that there are players who should not be in the team. This is the weakest Arsenal squad in years,as far as im concerned we need to clear out the dead wood &the useless.Diaby,Dennilson,SILVESTRE!!,Rosicky,Eduardo can aii move on-Walcott,while fast has the football brain of a nitwit,and what can u possibly say about the goalkeeping situation,its beyond laughable,disgraceful what words would u use. We will not get anywhere with this current crop-so Arsene lets MOVE ON………

  6. wow i went to bed with the gooners leading the gamr 2-0 and when i wake up this is what i see????????????? haha shame on you ARSEnal shame on you
    btw i’m a M-Utd fan so excuse the banter

  7. I am seriuos….the sooner the wenger leave the better for us .he sits there watching his players making same mistakes, and he only wake up 89 minutes to talk to his players,fuck i am fed up with wenger.

  8. As a neutral observer (my team is trying to hold onto 3rd in the Championship at the moment) who likes the “idea” of Arsenal (home grown, young talent as opposed to the other big sides), let me ask you this. Is it possible Arsenal is actually over-achieving, considering the glaring number of holes and relative age of the players (granted, injuries matter)? I think a manager like Sven-Goran Eriksson has this team fighting for 12th or 13th, not the title. Just my opinion, of course, but I think Wegner should get more credit than blame for what he’s able to achieve with this side. Now, if you want to take issue with how he constructed the side, considering the size of the club and the moves his competitors make, I have no argument there (maybe youth movements just don’t work at this level of the PL, dunno).

    1. It’s fine to whine about your own team, I guess. But c’mon, this was a lineup that you could expect Wenger to put out for a Carling Cup game, not a Premier League game away when they could have gotten back to three points behind the leaders with three games to go.

      When your best players are ALL injured every three games, it’s going to be tough to win. This isn’t an excuse for Arsenal, but when Fabregas, Arshavin, Van Persie, Vermaelean, Gallas, Song and Almunia are all out and you have the likes of Fabianski, Eastmond, freaking Sol Campbell, and Silvestre STARTING…you have major problems. Maybe instead of searching for inexpensive youth talent, Wenger should start looking for players that can suit up for more than two games in a row.

      When your captain is on the shelf for 15-20 games per season like Fabregas, what can you expect. I’m also looking at you Torres, Fernando.

      1. I have to say that I actually think Sol Campbell has looked really good the last two games, he has been by far our best player, he actually looks like he cares unlike some of the other players.

  9. You where lucky Wigan didn’t score more, the ref was on your side today and didn’t give a blatant penalty and we also had 3 one on one situations which we messed up! But fair play to the arsenal fans who stayed to the very end and applauded Wigan!

    1. Blatent penalty? Come on? Yes he touched his arm, but the way watson went down was ridiculous, yes they are given some times, but some times they are not, it was a blatent case of over reaction, he didn’t need to go down so it really is his own fault.

  10. Everything in moderation. That is Arsenal’s problem. Too much emphasis on youth and potential and too little experience and quality.

    Walcott could be great, but he thinks running 100 mph is better than playing smart football. Sagna is young and could be great but is no there yet. Arsenal have no goalkeeper worth mentioning. Bendtner is young and has potential but his finishing leaves much desired. Clichy cannot handle a quality opponent – ask him about Nani and Ronaldo.

    Look through the fog of youth, pace, and potential and Arsenal will have five players good enough to play every game: Arshavin, Fabregas, Song, Van Persie, and Vermaelen. The rest should be rotated with other “good enough” players.

    Moderation is key.

  11. should realize that your young guns doesn’t have a good mentality monsieur! maybe they have a good skill..good spirit, but every body knows,,every body watch it,that when the young guns got some pressure..then they’ll play like a nervous player in the field.,the’ll always loose the ball.,like a football player never training a football eh?? so i suggest to buy some good player with a good need some player that can be trusted to play the ball in the field..not like bendtner who always loose the ball when his friend pass the ball to him..what a stupid player! come on monsieur.,you know what you need to do..don’t let the gunners (fans) being embarrased when we wear our proudly jersey outside! make us proud again to wear it!!

    1. Again, Bendtner is basically a sub. Van Persie is out, he replaces him. Who are these young players we are talking about? Sol Campbell? Silvestre? How long will Theo Walcott be considered a young player?

  12. Injuries are the biggest part of the problem there. I agree that some of the players in the line up weren’t up to par and broke down at the end of the game. But a lot of it was due to them beign rusty. With all the injuries, we’ve been forced to play many players who aren’t our regular starters. We had two or our oldest pleayer starting when they ususally dont. If we had vermalen and gallas in the back we would have been fine and there wouldn’t have been a comeback. When you switch up the back four there is going to be defenseive slips. plain and simple

  13. This is a fairly good post, well thought-out and not too harsh.

    I will not blame injuries or lack of players for this defeat because we were 2-0 up, but the one thing I will say is this: I don’t think you can reasonably question the leadership of the team when the first six names on the team sheet were not playing. Fabregas, Gallas, Song, Vermaelen, Arshavin and van Persie have proven to be our most reliable and consistent players, not to mention the best leaders, and playing without any of them was like a ship without a rudder.

    It is the simple explanation as to why we have lost the last three games and why players like Diaby look unsure of what they are doing when they have to take on the leadership roles.

    1. Every year, Arsenal fans have many excuses why they don’t win any trophies – youth movement, injuries, robbed by calls. Give it a rest. Arsenal is a very good team when fit, a mediocre team when not. Welcome to life. Every team this year has had to overcome injuries, calls, etc. Arsenal are not different. No more excuses – win or go home.

  14. This is the time for massive change at the Emirates. Whether the playing body or the management i think we must see major changes. I have decided to boycott watching any Arsenal game featuring Diaby. Diaby is simply a waste; 92% of his passes are missed and he cant and wont tackle. He does not deserve to wear the arsenal jersey even not to play in the carling cup. He is not committed and what more… Diaby is just a crap.

    Gunners forever!!!

  15. I only got to see the highlights on the Premier Review Show (FSC decided to hand this match to the as yet widely unavailable Fox Soccer Plus). From what I saw, Walcott made some very determined runs and his goal was solid. I realize that highlights don’t make the match performance, but he’s shown some improvement as of late. His pace always unsettles teams. Yet on another site (the insipid Bleacher Report) someone is suggesting putting Theo on the transfer market. Absurd!

    That said, Denilson, Diaby, and Bendtner are players that have underperformed this year. I’d add Eduardo to that list, but he’s still not the same player as before the horror injury of a few years before, and he’s shown his class in the past. He deserves a little more time to get back in the right frame of mind.

    I think Mr. Wenger will find the right balance of new blood and current talent but it’s clear we need help in the center of defense. The outside players are solid enough, but haven’t had enough midfield support, especially from the center. We’ll have Gibbs back as well and Eboue is a solid cover player at right back who can maraud forward.

    We need another player like Song in the middle, only more of a destroyer type player who patrols in front of the back four.

    Chamakh seems a good central player with size and feet and could complement Van Persie up front. I’d like to see Theo moved into the center as well, to pressure teams with his pace. Bendtner is hopelessly unsuited to that role and it’s not Van Persie or Eduardo’s strength as well.

  16. More excuses for Goober fans

    It’s embarrassing for them that they come up with the same excuses year after year after year after year

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