Arsenal Have The Players But Not The Mentality To Compete

Arsenal is under the microscope yet again. At the beginning of the season, it was “No RVP, no goals, and no Song.” Now it’s cries of “Wenger OUT,” even more-so after the loss at Old Trafford. But, wasn’t this the same Arsenal squad that was apparently the deepest in years? A side that had battle hardened veterans like Metersacker, Arteta and Podolski?

The stats don’t back up this argument. Arsenal is statistically having their worst start to a Premier League season, with only 15 points out of a possible 30. Is this the start of a battle for the last Champions League place again, or merely a drop in form?

Something Arsenal fans can take in the aftermath is the massive amounts of Arsenal hyperbole in the media — “Arsenal are so bad it was frightening,” and they “continue to sell [their] best players and expect to compete.” But, there was a voice of reason among all the kerfuffle and that was Gary Neville. He spoke candidly about Arsenal. He said, “I was disappointed with Arsenal— and I was disappointed for them. I spent my whole career competing with them for trophies; When you said their name, you automatically thought Championship…contenders. Not now, judging by the manner of their performance at Old Trafford. When I think of the great Arsenal teams under Arsene Wenger, I can’t think of one player who started at Old Trafford who would get into them.” I found myself agreeing. On performance do any of Arsenal’s starting eleven warrant a place among the invincibles?

Man for man, Arsenal on the day was stronger than Manchester United. If one was to compare the two line-ups, bias aside, I’d pick more Arsenal players than United. Therefore, the result on Saturday wasn’t based on having a “thin squad” or lacking the players to compete, but mentality. Arsenal for years have surrendered leads and lost games due to their ability to capitulate. So Arsenal shouldn’t go buying a new midfielder or the like just after one result, but they need to regroup and find the spirit that Wenger harps on about. To take defeat and learn, not to give up, Wenger said after the freak result against Reading, “You cannot play for Arsenal and just give up, no matter what the score is.” If these words hold true than the team mustn’t give up but needs to prove the doubters wrong yet again.

Now Arsenal sits sixth, nine points adrift from league leaders Manchester United. Despite the result and recent form, Arsenal still possess the best defensive record in the Premier League. Whether that can be correctly determined after ten games remain to be seen, but with a team that concedes less than previous Arsenal sides, positivity beckons. And with the likes of Diaby, Rosicky and Gibbs on their way back to recovery, the side has some potential first team player options returning.

Arsenal’s problems can’t be solved with a few players, but equally won’t with the media’s overzealous headlines and views on the Arsenal team. Bear in mind this is still a new team, many of the players played their very first game at Old Trafford for Arsenal. With that said, there will be difficulties and in the Premier League the road to success isn’t one without its fair share of crashes and bumps along the way.

25 thoughts on “Arsenal Have The Players But Not The Mentality To Compete”

    1. Yes I could. Who’d you prefer, Metersacker or Evans? Sanga or Rafeal? Vermalelen or Ferdiand? Wilshere or Cleverley? Arteta or Carrick? Podolski or Young? It’s not a big stretch to say these players are either on par or their Arsenal counterparts are slightly better. But hey everyone’s entitled to an opinion.

      1. I’d take Evans over Metersucker every time. The Titanic could turn quicker than Metersucker.

        Raphael over Sagna isn’t even worth debating.

        Have you seen Vermalen lately. He was terrible on Saturday and the only person he could beat in a foot race is John terry so that ain’t saying much about him. In a one of big game I’d take Rio and his experience each time.

        What has jack Wiltshire accomplished that you rate him so highly above Cleverly?

        Ill throw you a bone and let you have Arteta over carrick.

        Podolski might have been good years ago but to say you would take him over young is ridiculous.

        Go compare the teams Arsenal have played in the league to the teams utd have played and tell me who has the better defense. I guess if arsenal have the best defense after conceding only 8 goals the Sunderland must have the second best defense in the league with only 9 goals conceded.

        1. Metersacker is undeniable quality, he wouldn’t have as many caps for Germany if he wasn’t.

          Vermalen well, I don’t rate him too highly myself. But I can stay without a doubt I’d prefer him over Rio.

          Wilshere what has he done? Well did this right, he played a team called Barcelona and ran midfield.

          Podolski has more goals and is arguably more defensively stout than Young.

          United don’t have a quality midfield or defense. It’s the mentality of team and the strength of the manager, that allows them to challenge and continue to win.

          If you don’t believe just check out your loss against Tottenham.


          1. Poldolski is more defensively stout than young now that’s funny. He has 2 goals and 2 assist in 10 games, young has only played in 4 games this season.

            So Wiltshire had a good game against Barcalona a couple of seasons ago and that makes him better than cleverly right now.

            Rio isn’t exactly lacking In international caps himself. Clearly all those international caps Metersucker has didn’t help him Saturday when a player 5’8″ scored the winning goal from a header.

  1. The headline of this article sums up Arsenal Football Club since 2004.

    A team that is always on the cusp but never getting over the hump. Not winning, seeing the hierarchy pass the club by, these are all things the club has failed to address correctly. Wenger will need to finish outside of the top four for a real change in course at this club.

  2. Arsenal don’t have the right mix of players to challenge for the league title or the Champions League. Since Arsenal last won the league title clubs like Chelsea and City have spent big to bring in quality players which is why those two clubs have won the title in recent years. United have always brought in whatever they needed to make sure they are competetive and are willing to mpay for it.

    Arsenal have done a tremendous job with their youth policy but they need to go further and buy more quality players and that means spending big. Otherwise, they won’t be able to compete with the other 3 clubs mentioned above.

    This season Arsenal’s best chance for silverware will be the Capital One Cup and the FA Cup.

  3. @Mufc77,

    Podolski normally puts a ‘shift’ for the team, and that’s where his defensive attributes come from.

    Wilshere didn’t only have a good game, he had a good season. It would be kind of ingeniousness to say he’s not quality, purely because he didn’t play last year. And if we’re asking what players have done, what has Cleverley done for United?

    Rio has been a shadow of the quick, athletic player he was. Metersacker’s never been fast, so his games always centered over his ability to read the game. It may’ve taken him a season to adapt, but thus far he’s looked rather good in the Premier League.

    While the set-pieces continue to be a problem area, they’re normally a problem for most teams. It’s not like Arsenal are the only team in the League who have difficulties defending them.



  4. Very good article and I agree with most of it and just made a similar point to a friend. ON paper Arsenal have some terrific players (on paper).
    I see a lot of Arsenal fans slagging of Podolski and Giroud but one has 100 German caps and the other just stopped Spain winning a qualifier for the first time in years. I’d argue we a re little thin in areas (left back stands out) but its a good team.
    Here is the damning stat – throw out the Southampton slaughter and Arsenal have 9 goals from 9 games. That’s pathetic and indicative of a team that doesn’t create chances. The style of play is wrong, the mentality is wrong but I am convinced the playing staff is okay….so for me the coaching has gone to pot.

  5. I’m not sure how you took Gary nevilles as any different from what everyone else is saying. He is saying he was disappointed by the performance and that they are not as good as they used to be.

    The pick a stating 11 from the 2 was also done on talksportdrive drive time by jason cundy, they took it further and went to pick 11 plus 7 to make a squad to see who you would pick and not surprisingly Utd ended up with more.

    I can’t stand either team but that aside, talent evaluation is subjective and based on system, both play different system.

    Identifying AFC quality players are one thing, choosing them over another teams is entirely different.

    IMO sanga IS better than Raphael, and vermalen over Evans is fine too, but after that the only others that would be considered would be Corzola and maybe Walcott.

    Wilshere you can’t say because its to soon, if he can recapture the form he had before getting injured then sure, but you can’t tell yet. (He may injur himself with his reckless challenges before you know what he can do)

    Van Dirty (he’s united now remember)

    When you look at the squad depth which IS what you need to do when assessing a clubs effectiveness over a season. Man Utd do have the depth, If smalling or jones were fit I would choose either of them over vermin.

    Podolski IS passed it, Giroud IS rubbish so far, Dirteta is rightly called do after commuting more fouls than anyone else in the league.

    I will also say it is still to early to tell anything, or, to panic, even tho yes 10 games have been played the BPL is more organic than the statistical robot Opta would have you believe.

    Man Utd, Chelsea City CAN all fall apart, look at cities collapse last year!

    I think wengers teansfer philosopher has created the gap Farcenal find themselves with.

    1. “Man Utd, Chelsea City CAN all fall apart, look at cities collapse last year!”

      I must have missed some portions of the last season. Are you sure you are not confusing City with Spurs?

      1. I was refering to The large lead city had that disappeared and then the lead Man Utd built up eroded too.

        The spurs meltdown lead by captain ‘arry was depressing but perhaps not as powerful an example of what can happen ala the title race

  6. The problem so far is Wenger’s team selection. Giroud and Podolski together in the starting lineup just doesn’t work. Wenger’s insistence on starting Aaron Ramsey is mind boggling. Ramsey is simple not good enough and is consistently messing up the midfield. Wenger needs to play Theo and Giroud together and maybe even Oxlade. Playing Ramsey as a winger is plain silly.

  7. Arsenal still have the squald to challenge for the top 4 finish (4th spot finish to be honest) but this is more of testament that overall EPL quality has dropped significantly. Despite the players they have Arsenal are playing as a typical mid table team at the moment and this one is squarely on Wenger. Also, I agree with other posters that after years of decline mediocrity has finally settled in Arsenal FC.

  8. Agree with the author 100%. This squad needs a mental lift. There is still quality there. It’s not what is would have been had the continuous selling not taken place, but its good enough to finish in the top four and go on a cup run. The problems seem mental more than personnel. Arsene has time to get them playing better. If Pep took over the team (and I am NOT saying he is even considering it…nor am I saying Wenger out) that kinda mental lift combined with a couple of purchases in January could really change things.

  9. Strong point-the mentality is missing at Arsenal. They were beaten in their heads after 3 minutes. Was a very poor performance-they made United look far better than they are.
    15 points after 10 games-its going to be a long hard season for the club-and they look more likely to be relegated than get in the top 4.
    Wenger has sold far too many players to rivals and does not buy the right kind of player.
    – but the players they do have look under-motivated and confused about what they should be doing at any one time.

    Its obvious that its time to replace Wenger but the club will never sack him-so they will continue to decline.

  10. Need more pace. Walcott should always be in the starting 11. But Wenger only values midgets who are master of ineffectual tiki-taka. Same old crap. Nothing ever changes with Arsenal. Still they will reel off a string of wins soon and finish top 4.

  11. Jack Wilshere – an incredible talent but one who has spent the last 17 months being incredible and talented away from the football pitch. Quite how Wenger thought him ready for a game at Old Trafford, 67 minutes into his first-team comeback, is more than puzzling. The man is a genius but like all men, genius or otherwise, he is plenty fallible.

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