Wednesday, 27 April 2011

ARSENALISM AT 300 with 99 Problems

A TRIP TO THE ARCHIVES FOR THIS PIECE FROM ME ON 28th March 2011 TO BE PRECISE, AND A GOOD TITLE NEVER DIES

Arsenalism enjoys its 300th post today (this includes posts that were made on wellyousaythat before Arsenalism went solo) and a lot has happened since that first Arsenalism post a year ago, or has it?

Our league position was:

1 Manchester United 31 69
2 Arsenal 31 67
3 Chelsea 30 65

Almunia was in goal and making errors. We were about to play Birmingham away; a game that we drew 1-1 and we all know what happened that day, Almunia conspired to throw the ball into his own net grasping a draw from the jaws of victory. Denilson and Diaby were anchoring our midfield that day our central defenders were Alex Song and Sol Campbell; this in itself tells its own story of lack of cover in key areas.

We then went on to be knocked out of The Champions League by Barca, lose away to Sp*rs; resulting in the WHL DVD factory going into overdrive.

We somehow managed to let Wigan beat us at the Emirates by throwing away a two goal lead and helping Wigan by Fabianski dropping a clanger (sound familiar?). Problems with poor goalkeeping and giving away leads that are still with us.

We then went on to lose at Blackburn. After taking a lead, we conceded from two corners. The dead ball frailties that are still with us

The final day’s 4-0 victory against Fulham was scant consolation for blowing the title. Yes we had injuries (what’s new) but we crumbled. The squad that had ‘great mental strength’ according to Wenger we just not up to the task at hand.

From a position where we had a reasonable chance of winning the league and ending the trophy drought we collected a measly 8 points out of a possible 21! And this was from the sadly inappropriately named ‘easy run in’

Our final position:

1 Chelsea 38 86
2 Manchester United 38 85
3 Arsenal 38 75

They say life is about learning and you would think that this awful experience would have taught the Manager a little something but we went into the following season with basically the same squad, with a couple of additions from the Football equivalent of Poundstretchers.

At the start of this year, to presumably explain why he had not made a purchase in the transfer window, Mr Wenger actually said

"The squad will be stretched but I have 25 players of the same quality - I have never had a squad of this equal strength in my life"

All the issues that were plainly there for all to see during the ’easy run in’ are still with us, despite two opportunities to add some quality to the squad and to address some basics like defending corners or holding on to a lead, we still have the crumble factor about us.

I’m sorry to say that I see history repeating itself again and I really hope that when I post my 500th post it’s not the same sad story.

Three songs for here and now...

Problems

When you gonna learn

something better change

...And now the Blogoverse/Blogaxy/Blogosphere is awash with opinions, but it's not all one way traffic; here's an interesting point of view from the online Gooner
The following is copyright  Oliver Chessis: The online Gooner 27/04/11

We’ve got 99 problems…
By Oliver Chessis
...but the pitch ain’t one

After my trip back from Bolton on Sunday, I thought that this would be as good a time as any to write our end of season review. Talking to a lot of Arsenal fans, and hearing what people say when coming out of grounds, anyone would think that the title of this article was indeed the truth. However, even after our recent monumental collapse, I am still of the opinion that we are not very far from being a Championship winning side.

As at the end of the Bolton game, 54% of the goals we have conceded in the League this season have been from set pieces. Not surprisingly, this is more than any other team in the division. I assume also that this does not even include Huddlestone’s goal at the Lane, a knock down from a throw, and Tiote’s goal at St James’, when we failed to clear a corner. All this suggests to me is that we lack any sort of organisation. The solution is simple. We need a coach/assistant manager whose priority is to sort out this mess.
As a proud member of the Arsene Knows Best brigade, I feel that this is also the time to dispel some of the myths of the countless problems currently at our club. This is also a good time to point out that the role of the AKB has changed this season. Clearly, we cannot go on suggesting that all is fine with the current squad and the way we play. I agree that some deadwood must be let go, and a couple of replacements should be brought in. Wenger was wrong; this squad was not good enough to win the League. We will never win the League until we learn to organise ourselves defensively, and this is also something that needs to be addressed.
But will spending £50m answer our problems as people suggest? Let’s remember that Andy Carroll cost £35m. Torres, a proven striker in our league, cost £50m and his signing has possibly cost Chelsea the League and Champions League. Throwing money at our problems will clearly not guarantee that they go away.
So do we need a leader? Yes, I hear you say? A John Terry type? John Terry has proudly led a double winning side, lest we forget with a manager that knows how to win things, to second in the League and a trophy-less season. What about Scott Parker, who saw his West Ham side let a two goal lead slip to United recently? Fans scream and shout for a Vieira or an Adams. These players don’t exist anymore. If there were so many of them around, they would not have been so special. Clearly again, a leader in the ranks would not guarantee success.
The extremely ungrateful amongst us have even suggested that Wenger should be let go. To these people I just ask who should be his replacement? The fact is, in Fergie, Wenger is up against the greatest football manager of all time. Sometimes you need to hold your hands up and just admit that another team is better. United’s biggest weapon is their manager.
So to our other gripes; deadwood in the squad. Most Gooners seem to want a large clearout this summer. Denilson, Bendtner, Rosicky, Eboue, Clichy, Arshavin, Chamakh it seems would not be missed. But is it really these players that are the problem? Let’s take the West Brom away game as an example, possibly Denilson’s worst in an Arsenal shirt. If our bigger players had played well, and he had played badly, would we have won? I’d say yes. If the likes of RVP had a mare, and Denilson played to the best of his ability, would we have won? No. Man United will win the league this season because their big players have performed, not because they can bring Obertan and Gibson off the bench. Cesc, Walcott, Song and Nasri since Christmas have all not been good enough. During the last few games of our collapse, the big Guns have all played, they have just not performed.
The other issues that I read about each month in The Gooner and on its website, quite frankly, prove that it is not all that bad at Arsenal. Who cares how many people at are the game, and how this number differs from the announced attendance? Do people think it is anything new that the owners of the club don’t care for the fans and will take them for all they have? This is modern football. Levy is moving the Spuds out of Tottenham, the Glazers have put United up as collateral for their debt, Abramovich wants to manage his club and is doing more harm than good, and then of course there is Liverpool. And of course our players are the only ones that don’t care because they don’t clap travelling support.
I said after the Carling Cup Final that the loss at Wembley would mean that we would then not win the League. It is ironic that the trophy Wenger used as a learning environment for youngsters so that they could one day win the League is the one that has probably cost us. We have never recovered, and our collapse has indeed been monumental. This is something Wenger should address.
We are not far short of being a Championship winning side. As Paul Merson suggested after the Bolton game, the squad and current backroom setup requires mere tweaking. On this we will all agree. Where opinions differ, are on how many other problems we have.

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