Not so dench on the bench
By Simon Rose
Limited options at Norwich
Firstly, letís acknowledge the obvious truth about our 1-0 defeat at Norwich City: our attitude was poor, our effort was poor and the result was poor. There is no escape from it, you canít argue your way out of such a limp display and defeat. There was very little energy from Arsenal, little in the way of a spirited fight back and several question marks left about what went wrong.
For me, Arsenalís lethargy was epitomised early on, by what became the winning goal. There was something about how far Mannone let Tetteyís shot escape him that shocked me, in the immediate split-seconds after the ball was spilt, even before Grant Holt responded. It made me wonder how focused we were for the game ahead. Mannone didnít just spill the ball, it slid well away from him and he looked dozy when trying to work out where the ball had gone. As soon as I saw that, it was a foregone conclusion for me that any Norwich player close by would win the race to reach the ball first and plunder a goal. Mertesacker was slow to respond and all Holt had to do was execute the finish.
Going 1-0 down so early did not in itself need to be fatal, weíve come back from such damage many times, but I already had a niggling concern from before the match. After the goal, the issue made me question if we had it in us to turn the match around. The tame final outcome from the match confirmed my discomfort: there was no alternative striker on our bench. So far this season our substitute options have largely been good, pretty exciting, with talented depth available across the whole team. Our bench has certainly looked better than it did during much of last season. Suddenly at Norwich, our bench looked a bit threadbare.
Our six outfield substitutes available at Norwich were Djourou, Coquelin, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Arshavin and Gnabry. Only the last four could have a realistic attacking impact. Wilshere has been out for 14 months. He was largely on the bench to reintegrate him to being part of a matchday squad. If we had been cruising by at least a two-goal margin Jack may well have come on. He wasnít going to come on while we tamely tried to equalise a 1-0 deficit.
The Ox had spent the international break with England, including a time-sapping escapade in Poland. Without other bench options like Walcott, the Ox seemed our best attacking threat, but he performed gingerly and went off injured after 9 minutes. Given Chamberlainís late return from England duty and apparent lack of physical readiness, bringing him on does not now look to be an inspired substitution.
Beyond the Ox, our other attacking threats from the bench were Arshavin and Gnabry; one a talented versatile creative attacker and goalscorer that we no longer appear to trust, the other a new runtlet that we have high hopes for. Sadly both were a long shot. We were gagging for a striker to bring on. Giroud, Podolski and Gervinho were already on the pitch, Walcott was injured, the Ox came on and went off. Despite injuries and despite there being attacking numbers, the one thing we lacked was an alternative striker to bring on, to claim at least an equaliser.
Where was Marouane Chamakh? Questions of crapness aside, where was he? Is Chamakh injured? If not, I cannot understand why he wasn't on the bench at Norwich. Manchester City were 1-0 down at WBA, they brought on an alternative striker and Edin Dzeko scored two goals to win them the game. Chamakh may be no Dzeko but he is a striker and part of that requirement is getting time on the pitch. Questions of commitment, contracts and the worth of being on £60,000 a week donít matter when you are losing 1-0 at Norwich and need another striker to bring on.
Whether or not Chamakh is injured, crap or otherwise, our bench at Carrow Road was not good enough for the Premier League. It has cost us an unnecessary defeat. Who knows how damaging that could be, come the end of the season. For me, Norwich away has to be an away win. The defeat is definitely three points lost.
Many observers are citing this match and the performance, attitude, effort and notion of the squad flying to Norwich for the match as a chance to roll out many of the big questions surrounding our club. Personally, I think the reaction has been a little extreme. This is one match. Itís only one result. Letís not have a nervous breakdown. One match cannot be a malaise in isolation. One match is not a trend. Any damaging trend here now depends on how we handle Schalke.
Beat Schalke, pillage QPR and see off Reading, then we can take on Man Utd at Old Trafford in decent shape. If we lack confidence and energy against Schalke, then on the back of Norwich that is a trend. The crowd will get annoyed. Failure to beat Schalke would make it harder to beat QPR, which makes Reading more confident and leaves us open to another Old Trafford mauling. That, 100%, we do not need.
Momentum matters. Trends form. One crappy away defeat at Norwich can be left to look isolated if you snap back into a proper performance and show what Arsenal are made of. If we fail to reassert ourselves against Schalke, then one result starts to become a trend and trends start to write the agenda of your opponentsí teamtalks. Arsenal need to get back to work and, until any striker signings are possible in January, every Arsenal bench has to include an alternative striker. If that has to be Chamakh at times, then surely so be it.
(For those who can't leave pre-conceptions at the door and don't realise that this article is clearly talking about now, right now, this season, I'll acknowledge that yes, clearly, the way we lost at Norwich was indicative of similar sudden lame defeats at lesser clubs, over several seasons now. That too is a trend and one that we appear not to be addressing adequately. It just wasn't distinctly the one I was writing about. Another trend is how on earth we still "drop physically in the second half". Football matches last 90 minutes, we should be better prepared than that).
23rd October 2012
User Comment and Reaction
User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.
Tony Evans 13:50pm 23rd Oct 2012
Simon - it is not just 'one match' though is it? I've lost count of the number of 3 point bankers Wenger and his gutless players have chucked away over the last umpteen seasons. There will be many more too no doubt until Wenger finally departs. - Post No. 29636
Frank 14:23pm 23rd Oct 2012
It is NOT one match it is NOT one result.This is the sort of game we have seen many many times in the last 7 years where have you been?.More AKB crap from Simon Rose.You should bring out a book of excuses for Arsenal defeats.When will you realise the manager and the team are not good enough - Post No. 29637
Gary 15:12pm 23rd Oct 2012
Simon why dont you mention Wenger is tactically bankrupt,He takes the goal-keeping situation for granted,his substitutions are **** and that he is well passed his sell by date.Your solution is get Chamakh on the bench.Laughable rubbish from Wengers biggest fan. - Post No. 29639
thatsimonrose 15:17pm 23rd Oct 2012
Leave your pre-conceptions at the door Frank and read the article. I'm not talking about the last 7 years, I'm talking about this season. - Post No. 29640
Ron 15:44pm 23rd Oct 2012
Average to poor team (this remains the worst team since the mid 60s in my view - no change from last Season) Busted flush of a Coach. Dress it up however you want to Simon. - Post No. 29642
gooner30 16:21pm 23rd Oct 2012
Time for Wenger to go. Had enough of his excuses, time for a change - Post No. 29644
Kenny 16:29pm 23rd Oct 2012
Simon why dont you start addressing we are not a good team.Saturday was gutless and a disgrace.We have awful keepers at the club,a LB who is not fit(fat)Ramsey Gervinho and Giroud.And a clueless manager.Instead of saying it was a one off and making excuses.How many more one -offs will we have to put up with this season.Arsenal will never win another trophy under Wenger.When will you get into the real world Simon.This is the worst Arsenal team under Wenger and its not going to get any better - Post No. 29645
maguiresbridge gooner 16:38pm 23rd Oct 2012
Yes simon no excuses can be made because there aren't any for such a limp display and we all know what went wrong.It's not just one match it's not just one crappy defeat if it was it probably wouldn't be a problem but it's happening all the time and has been happening for the last eight seasons and apart from a couple of displays at the start of the season which took us all in they still are with the same old and there's no evidence of it been sorted or put right.The keeper situation is a perfect example your dead right about mannone but dozy is being to kind i could suggest a lot worse but it's all being said before.Going one down shouldn't be a problem but on to many occasions it is as witnessed on Saturday because we never looked like coming back because the players hadn't it in them. A friend of mine who was there confirmed it when he said you could see it in their play and their body language but we didn't have to go to far from our tv's to see that.There are two many players in the team or on the bench on top money under performing or are simply not good enough. Big Big improvement needed how many times have we said that and how many times will it be said again ? - Post No. 29646
Angry Gooner 16:47pm 23rd Oct 2012
Dear Mr Rose its fans like you who give Gooners a bad name.The last 7 years have a lot to do with saturdays gutless performance.Because it happens 4 or 5 times every season(Utd,Blackburn,Fulham,Wigan and QPR last season).I would have fined every Arsenal player who took part in the Norwich game 2 months wages.Wenger or Gazidis could have wrote this article.You do not speak for the majority of Arsenal fans who want our Arsenal back.We are a million miles behind the top 3.Its a fight for 4th place again.Is that what Arsenal is all about? - Post No. 29647
AuRevior Wenger 17:05pm 23rd Oct 2012
The AKB's have been very quiet on here since the shameful Norwich game even they couldnt defend that shower of s**t.But you can always rely on Wenger's apologist-in-chief Simon Rose to come on a write a load of rubbish.Dont panic Capt Mainwaring it was a just one-off it wont happen again.We should have Chamakh on the bench!!!Thats the point a player as crap as Chamakh shouldnt be anywhere near the club(as well as Manonne Ramsey Gervinho and Giroud) yet you are calling for him to be on the bench.Would he get in any of the top 3's squads?This is the same Simon rose who wrote RVP should sacrfice trophies and medals to stay at Arsenal.RVP knew what was coming.Take the rose tinted specs off Simon Wenger is finished and has been since 2008 - Post No. 29648
Whinger_Out_NOW 17:15pm 23rd Oct 2012
Simon, AKB's use the Romney's Etch A Sketch even better than him. Why should it be only about this season? WHy not last season's BlackBurn example? Or the Wigan one from 2 seasons ago? It's always about "this" season as if what happened at Norwich has never happened before and will never happen again under Whinger. The man is so tactically bankrupt that he was berating the 4th official by the 36th minute. Using "this season" as an excuse no longer holds water as we have seen this movie before and will see it again so long as Whinger is in charge. Can you guarantee otherwise? Yeah, thought so. - Post No. 29649
Highbury Boy 17:15pm 23rd Oct 2012
It's you Simon who have pre-conceptions. You still think we are a title chasing side with a top manager. Just think this season. We were poor against Sunderland and West Ham could have easily beaten us. Don't blame the bench. Wenger only uses the subs in the last 20 minutes by which time Norwich could and should have been out of sight. Their goal was caused not only by a weak gk but by poor defending in not closing down ,by a cb who was slow to react and by a full back who played the scorer onside. It's a poor team. We have gone from one of the best teams in Europe to presently 5th in London. You can't say it's down to no striker on the bench. - Post No. 29650
Mark 19:01pm 23rd Oct 2012
So Simon we judge Wenger only on this season and not the last 7.Youre like The Bobby Ewing death in Dallas the last 7 years never happened they were just a dream.Just judge Wenger on this season.OK 9th in the league 12 pts dropped out of 24 and you still cant see something is wrong.What more wrong does Wenger have to do for you to admit he must go.If you think another Norwich wont happen again this season you are seriously deluded.Last season we could have signed Mata we sign Gervinho instead!!!!No RVP to save us this season but dont worry Chamakh is still at the club - Post No. 29651
CanadaGooner 19:24pm 23rd Oct 2012
All those idiots on here who spend more time talking about 'AKBs' are just like idiots who go to a football game and spend the whole 90minutes picking a fight with the opposing fans and not watching the match. Who cares about whether someone is an AKB or not, when our team just lost to a team that hadnt yet won a single macth this season?! And is this a new trend/ maybe for this season, but the past 7 seasons have all seen us lose to teams like Blackburn where they were rooted to the bottom (but they also beat Man Utd too that season). If you have players who are all largely on their national team squad and earn the kinds of money these lot earn, only an idiot will spend time talking about AKBs or Wenger. The players have to stand up and be counted! When we play Chelsea, Man Utd, Citeh or Spurs, one would look to the manager to pull something out so we make a difference and win; when we play Norwich, the manager should be in Hawaii taking a nap! The lose to Norwich was simply a really poor show by the players and one can only hope they feel some shame! - Post No. 29652
Gloster vvPgGooner 19:43pm 23rd Oct 2012
Groundhog Day anyone... - Post No. 29653
Bard 20:05pm 23rd Oct 2012
I get it. Let's not be too negative, after all it was one bad result. However I don't buy it. Following Arsenal is like groundhog day. The same trends, decent performances gradually undermined by spineless displays again poorer sides. The same problems on the field. How many crap goalkeepers have we had to endure, not just one but at least 3. Man U. Chelsea, City, liverpool, spuds. They all have decent keepers. You cannot win without a good one. Its not f****** rocket science.But does he do anything about it no. I could understand it if Chesney was Seaman but he's not he's average at best. Wenger's perversity and delusional management has become a liability. - Post No. 29654
Harold 20:08pm 23rd Oct 2012
CanadaGooner- OK let's blame the players and not Wenger. What do we do next? - Post No. 29655
Lee afc 20:13pm 23rd Oct 2012
This piece is about hindsight and what could have been after the horse has bolted. To suggest that we should have played chamakh is pretty much telling me your mentality and where we are going as a club. - Post No. 29656
Simon Rose the AKB Agent 22:38pm 23rd Oct 2012
Another shower of excuse making horse crap. Yet again the classic AKB nonsense "it's just one game", etc. Articles like this are an embarrassment, it's been EIGHT years now without a pot!!!! Yet as usual this article manages somehow to ask lots of questions, without asking the main one: why is the Arsenal manager making such incompetent decisions? Nah you'll never hear that one asked. It's not in the AKB guide to ask such questions. Another pathetic article from comical Simon Rose "win against Schalke and QPR bla bla and all will be rosy in the Wenger garden" Errrr. Even if that happens Wenger will STILL be about 10 pts off the league leaders!!!! DOH! - Post No. 29657
fozzy's mate 5:07am 24th Oct 2012
Simon it is one game but follows an alarming trend set over 7 years and the striking and goalkeeping dearth is unforgivable for a club with 153 million in the bank. How many times after one or two good performances have you posted saying we will win the league and OGL is god? We are in a strange malaise where some just accept the mediocre dross that we now watch year in year out. How many times have we heard OGL and co talk of a shock and wake up call? A drfiting club with an ambitionless board and a has been manager who has lost his way. The worst bunch of keepers and strikers around. Yes we will scrape past Schalke and QPR but Manure away? - Post No. 29659
Kevin 7:38am 24th Oct 2012
Simon Rose is the Gooner's version of John Cross.Embarassing. - Post No. 29660
The Noise 7:40am 24th Oct 2012
Simon... You should go in for a merger with Arseblogger. You'd be at home with that AKB outfit. You're blinkered work is wasted on this site. - Post No. 29661
Tony Evans 8:24am 24th Oct 2012
All - Please read the latest article on the Arsenal Truth website which sums up perfectly how most Gooners of my vintage and older feel. It might just open your eyes Simon! - Post No. 29662
TheManOnTheTube 9:11am 24th Oct 2012
You do wonder don't you? I'll give you an answer, Chamakh is probably still in that drug bar with Abel Tarrabt! - Post No. 29663
Highbury Diva 9:16am 24th Oct 2012
I had a niggling feeling we would struggle in this game. Norwich were bound to fight back from their poor run and they had the interlull to organise themselves. Chris Hughton is a pretty astute tactician and although their goal came as a result of sloppy defending and poor goalkeeping, they seemed to have the measure of us. They looked more hungry than us and even though we had the lion's share of possession we were often slow to the ball when it really mattered.Remember Hughton was manager at Newcastle when they last beat us at home and nobody was really expecting that one either. Sure, no reason to panic just yet but it's as if the old wound has been scraped and it doesn't take much for us to wince. Bringing on Chamak wouldn't have helped. He is a striker only in name at the moment. He should be gone but we can't get rid of him. He's admitted he'd rather stay on big wages and warm the bench (if that). It was a bad day at the office and we have to hope they can bounce back. Still I won't hold my breath. - Post No. 29664
chris dee 9:23am 24th Oct 2012
Si Rose. Absolutely sod all to do with the quality of the subs bench. Commitment and team spirit in spades,which were the qualities missing, were not sitting on the bench itching to come on.Please don't try and offer any excuse for the depressing, mind numbing bullpoo of that performance. - Post No. 29665
Angry & Frustrated 9:55am 24th Oct 2012
Simon please go to your doctor, because you have a chronic case of Wenger denial, and you require urgent treatment! Your symptoms include only seeing what Wenger's eyes see. Your excuses mirror image your leaders words, and fatally you write about them showing that one of his worst traits is present-spin! The only thing missing presumably is the circa £7 million salary, although I and many on here expect you are being remunerated by expressing your God's words by Gazidis & co!! Get help urgently Simon, as otherwise in your next article you will be writing that "This is our best squad ever"! - Post No. 29666
Dan h 9:59am 24th Oct 2012
What we had or didn't on the bench was neither here nor there.You can defend AW all you want you are entitled to.However the same manager you have defended to the hilt chose to put Wilshire on the bench in the hope we would be streets ahead with 20 mins or so to go.The fact we were losing he said afterwards was the reason why he wouldn't put him on so looked like he also thought it would be a comfortable win.Complacent? - Post No. 29667
Manny 10:01am 24th Oct 2012
I thought after coming out of Carrow road on saturday nothing could make me more angry then i read this.Not one mention of our clueless manager no we lost against a team who had not won all season because our bench wasnt strong enough.Does the Gooner Ed not read this tosh then delete it.Why does he let the author continue to write such drivel.There is nothing constuctive just write off the game as a one off.As usual the last person to get any blame from Rose is Wenger.As others have said this was NOT a one off.I dispair that there are still fans like him left.Total AKB Bull - Post No. 29668
Joe S. 10:24am 24th Oct 2012
Canada G., except for your resistance to the term AKB's and refusal to point the finger at management there is nothing else to seperate your opinions from those of the "idiots" you condemn. - Post No. 29669
Graham Simons 10:30am 24th Oct 2012
There's this general view Arsenal are encountering another groundhog day season - that the players are perfectly capable of winning matches but they lack the balls, spirit or gumption. In previous seasons, this was certainly the case - we were despatched by the likes of Norwich due to their ability to grind us down. What frightens me is normally when the warmer Spring months come around we kick into another gear and do just enough to qualify for the Champions League. Despite hopes Steve Bould would turn the defence around, we have actually made our worst start to a Premiership season ever and the first touch of the likes of Giroud and Gervinho tells me the problem isn't lack of effort - these guys are just rubbish. The continued talent purge of our squad is finally taken its toll - we won't make top 4 this season. - Post No. 29670
thatsimonrose 11:55am 24th Oct 2012
I fear for the health of some of the people who tend to reply to my blogs. If you want to notice only Arsenal's negatives and cling to them, that's up to you. We all know what the negatives are, but personally I don't want to do my head in over them. I'd rather look for positives. It amazes me how some people want to put arguments into my mouth that I haven't even mentioned, such is their desire to label me an AKB! I'm no AKB, I've been critical of Wenger since 2001 but people do seem to like ignoring when I am critical and pick out the positivity, criticising it and holding onto precious labels. Like I say, it's your health, perhaps you should get your blood pressure checked. - Post No. 29671
Skooner 13:13pm 24th Oct 2012
As others have in their own way pointed out, I think a clear distinction needs be drawn between a defeat and a gutless defeat. All teams have off days and aren't going to win every match, the problem that this match (along with many others in the past) hightlights is that the attitude of the players is simply inexscuable. If that had been City, United or Chelsea, the last 20 minutes would have been an onslaught that Norwich would only have survived through a combination of luck, great defending/goalkeeping. As it was the players didn't fancy it, went through the motions and rarely troubled the opposition (who are strong candidates for relegation). Even if we win and win well against Schalke, the very fact that in the Norwich game the players effectively chose not to put in the required effort means they may choose to do so again in the future. We have a fundamental flaw at the club which stems from the top and there is absolutely zero sign of change on the horizon to fix it. - Post No. 29672
Ron 13:53pm 24th Oct 2012
Skooner - Quite true. Many games immediately before and immdiately after CL games have been treated the same by Wengers feinthearts for quite some years now. Its a disgrace and fans are often ripped off by paying to attend such games. Theres a definite pattern i noticed when attending them myself in the past. Wenger and his players should be ashamed. Norwich was just another for the list. - Post No. 29673
Gordon 14:18pm 24th Oct 2012
Simon-After a gutless performance like saturdays tell me where in your artcle are you critical of Wenger?Other than of course not having Chamakh on the bench!!!!!.You are a defender of Wenger - Post No. 29674
Seven Kings Gooner 14:23pm 24th Oct 2012
I have just read the "Arsenal Truth" blog and I urge every fan to read it because it does, as Tony Evans said "sum up the feelings of many a vintage Gooner" My Arsenal was castrated some 5-6 yerars ago by Wenger & the board. The fear of trying too hard and failing is now AW biggest problem, so he, with the help of supine directors has lowered the sights so that any criticism of the team can be countered by the money the club is generating, or the ludicrous FFP mantra. The team that went to Anfield that night in May 1989 did n't cost a fraction of the Liverpool team yet it came back with the spoils of a great victory. It's not about money it is about bottle, bravery and resillience, those qualities have been taken from our team and I fear it is only people of a certain age and background that can see it. - Post No. 29675
chris dee 14:30pm 24th Oct 2012
Si Rose, Yep my head is being done in when an Arsenal fan draws any 'positivity' from last Saturday.Or positivity from any of the other similar white flag jobs we have seen in the last 7 years. We are not talking about a team that has just missed out on the title or Champions League where of course you can take positives.We are talking about a team trait that consistently chucks points and games away through what looks like indifference. Do you need reminding of some, 4-4 Newcastle ,4-0 AC Milan etc. My football head being done in?Big time. - Post No. 29676
billthered 14:34pm 24th Oct 2012
Well I thought we turned the corner but it seems we are back to square one Diaby injured Arshavin on no worthwhile subs to bring on and gutless display.I have never felt so bad as saturday night as I thought we were on to something.Jesus Norwich did'nt even have to kick us.In the last few games is it just me or has Steve Bould taken a back seat.Perhaps he was getting to much praise and AW did not like that as it is him that should be getting all the plaudits well now its brickbats,PATHETIC. - Post No. 29677
Orson Cart 14:37pm 24th Oct 2012
So Mr Rose all the other posters are wrong and you are right.You have Wenger-rightus.Everyone of your articles is a defence of Wenger.If you do write another article can i suggest its about why Wenger has blantantly taken the goalkeeping situation for granted.You bring all the criticism rightly on yourself with your smug i am right replies.Take a read of Gooner ed's match reports and learn how to be critical of Wenger.Its called telling it like it is.Your articles treat your fellow Gooners like fools - Post No. 29678
maguiresbridge gooner 17:11pm 24th Oct 2012
billthered good point on bouldy it's something that has been touched upon before is bouldy no longer being allowed any in put ? are we back to arsene's way. - Post No. 29680
Peter Wain 18:45pm 24th Oct 2012
If you replace world class players with second rate dross and in Gervinho's and Giroud's case they are nearer third rate these results will always occur. Like Chelski we appear to have a one striker policy and unfortuately ours is Giroud. How he is classified as a striker is a big mystery when he quite clearly not up to the task Sadly although we always claim lack of money we have wasted the best part of £30 million on rubbish French strikers and if you add in a rubbish Brazillian left back and an incomprehensible purchase of a certain Korean you get close to £40 million during this trophy less period. If we had bought just one world class player with this mony how much better would we be. When you add in all of the unsalable rubbish like Denilson Bendtner Arshavin Squallaci and Djorou it shows how awful our transfer dealings have been in the last five years. Despite what our manager says we are no longer competing to win anything we enter. Just to stay in the champions league. Last year we were unbelievable lucky in that our world class striker stayed fit and played like a world class player does and the Scum bottled it. We soon remedied this by selling him. If Wiltshire has a decent second half of the season no prizs who the muppetts will be trying to sell in the summer. I think that lightining is unlikley to strike twice so I can see little prospect of a repeat of champions league next season or there after. No doubt this will all be swept under the carpet tomorrow with statements of how ambitious the board and manager and owner are and how we are the model on which all clubs should be run. Totsl garbage the club is run to make a profit for the owner, board, management and if that means screwing the supporters they think that it is a price well worth paying. Until we remove all of the management Arsenal will just be another PLC company intent on making a prfoti at the expense of its loyal supporters. Kroenke please go now and take Gazidis Hillwood and Wenger with you. - Post No. 29681
Colin 21:57pm 24th Oct 2012
Thank God Norwich was a one off hey Simon?.Wenger out - Post No. 29683
Same old same old 23:19pm 24th Oct 2012
Manonne Santos Ramsey Gervinho and Giroud.What more is there to say?.These players were bought by Wenger.Sorry Simon as everyone was saying earlier Norwich was not a one off.Its now becoming the norm.If Wenger really loves the club he should resign.Its sad a once great manager is now a laughing stock.Its the Groundhog season again - Post No. 29684
Gervinho's barber 7:58am 25th Oct 2012
How will be the last one to turn the lights out at the Emirates John Cross Tom Watt or Simon Cross - Post No. 29686